Future Friday Replay: Habits of a Futurist

These are just some of the habits that can make you an effective futurist.

I read an article in Business Insider called Why Every Corporation Should Employ A Futurist where the author talked about what a “futurist” could do for companies. Two of these were:

  • Futurists think in terms of “multiple futures” rather than one. Not only does this increase the chances that one will have a plan for the actual future, but it also “intellectually conditions” one to adapt to change.
  • Futurists also see value in challenging basic assumptions.

That made me think of this post I wrote earlier in the year about habits that you can learn to help you apply “futurist” thinking. Some of this we are starting to see in the DisruptHR meetings that are occurring around the world. So read this and apply some of these principles to your way of thinking.
Yesterday I wrote about the work habits of a genius. Today I want to expose you to the work habits of a futurist. Why you ask? I want you to think like a futurist, at least to be aware of things that will have an impact on you, your job, and your company. The futurist I refer to is Richard Watson. He was profiled in an article in Quartz by writer Ephrat Livini. He is an interesting person, but I don’t necessarily agree with all of his habits. I will, however, tell you about the ones from which I think you can learn.

Practice selective ignorance

In today’s world, it is very easy to get overwhelmed by the massive amount of available in today’s world. Afterall, 2.5 exabytes are produced every day. That is the equivalent of 250,000 Libraries of Congress, every day! You would not be able to get through one Library of Congress in a single lifetime. Pick quality over quantity and try to move from breadth and depth in areas that are important to you.

Burst the bubble

Just like we perform random acts of kindness to improve the world we should practice random acts of interest. Pick up a magazine or book or strike up a conversation with a stranger. As Livini says “These random acts of interest in strangers and unusual communications break your information consumption routines and expose you to unique insights.”

Find the tall poppies

Back in 2010, I wrote Performance & Recognition: Does Your Unspoken Culture Weed Out the Flowers? where I described the phenomenon of people trying not to stand out in society because they get taken down by other members. Watson, however, wants you to look for these “tall poppies” because these people provide us with “a network of curious and remarkable people who are hungry for interesting information and can guide our thinking.”

Carve out designated reading time

Bill Gates reads all the time but he also takes an annual “think week” each year. This reading fuels innovative thinking throughout the year. You can do something similar.

Embrace silence

Learn how to look and listen deeply. Stop talking. Start listening. Be curious all the time.” This is not a far cry from what Walter Isaacson said that Leonardo da Vinci did. Silence allows you to be an observer, and observation can reveal many things to you if you allow yourself time to see and listen.
Watson suggestsiInstead of focusing on what everyone is already talking about, hunt down unusual knowledge. This is the arena that may produce innovative ideas and relevant foresight.
Give it a try, you may surprise yourself.

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