YOCR #15 – Think Like a Futurist … Like That!

Book: Think Like a Futurist by Cecily Sommers.
Book: Think Like a Futurist by Cecily Sommers.

I have a tendency to tandem read books. While I was reading “The Art of Non-Conformity,” I was also reading “Think Like a Futurist: Know What Changes, What Doesn’t, and What’s Next” by Cecily Sommers.

Perhaps the funnest class I’ve taken part in as an adult was one from the Center for the Future of Museums that taught futurist thinking. I loved, loved, loved the analysis and imagination involved with this class and earned a digital badge for my efforts. Since the class, I’ve been interested in futurism, seeking out books and articles on the topic. Being a futurist requires a large dollop of creativity, so “Think Like a Futurist” definitely belongs on my Year of Creative Reading list.

Cecily Sommers is from Minneapolis (it says so on the jacket cover) and because I have a Minnesota list on Twitter, I’m now following her there. She founded The Push Institute, which tracks and analyzes trends in order to help the government and organizations figure out long-term strategies. Her book presents the process she uses for this, providing examples of how the process has worked for specific organizations.

When it comes to trends, there are 4 forces that are always in play: Resources, technology, demographics, and governance. Organizations that want to capitalize on the trends that arise from these 4 forces are encouraged to figure out who they are and where they are going. This book provides guidance on how to figure out both questions.

My favorite exercise from the book is called “Like that!” which helps people and organizations figure out who they are by compiling a list or creating a collage of all the things they like. I’m not entirely sure where the emphasis should be on “Like that!” but I don’t think it matters much. If you like something, make note of it. (Emphasis on “like.”) If you observe a process or idea that might work for one of your projects, you can note that too. (Emphasis on “that.”)

What an easy and enjoyable way to figure out who you are! I’ve started keeping a list of “Like thats!” and the patterns are obvious. I’m very consistent over time. For example, I’ve liked polka dots, stripes, reading, and fiber arts since childhood.

The one thing I would add to this exercise is “Hate thats!” I believe the things you hate also define you and can be used to guide you away from lousy choices.