The Foresight Guide has been years in the making by a number of futurist researchers at the Foresight Education and Research Network (FERN), and it is a fantastic one stop resource for learning almost every dimension of the foresight discipline. I am very happy to see that FERN is nearing the guide's completion and making it available online free and forever, so I am linking here in the hopes of sharing its explanation of the mindset and skillset of futurism.
This is what a futurist conservative sounds like. Imagine that this was our national conversation right now. Imagine that the leaders of our Republic were talking about the vision and big questions and ideas Sen. Ben Sasse raises here. How much greater would we be? Watch the full video of Sen. Sasse's introduction to speakers at AEI's Vision Talk, and ask yourself what it would take for more politicians to talk at this level.
The Left and the Right both are enchanted by nostalgic imaginations of what America used to be, because it is a more comfortable out from this dilemma: All we know is the past, but we will spend the rest of our lives in the future. And the future contains novelty. Yuval Levin explains why a liberalism that looks back to the 1960s or a conservatism that looks back to the 1980s is unsuited to solving the problems of America in the 21st century.
Vernacular, a podcast dedicated to storytelling about human flourishing, interviewed co-founder and Conservative Foresight Consulting principal Nathan Hitchen. Why do conservatives have a strategy deficit? How is futurist conservatism different? Why is storytelling vital to strategy and building for the future? Tune in and find out!
A few years ago was the 40th anniversary of Shell's adoption of scenario planning for energy futures. The Shell scenarios department created this video to commemorate the legacy of how scenarios revolutionized the entire industry through Shell's pioneering use of them. The full story of how scenarios came to be is that futurist conservative Herman Kahn, who founded the Hudson Institute, created this foresight technique, which was then refined by Pierre Wack at Royal Dutch/Shell. Pierre Wack borrowed and refined the technique at Shell, but the origin of this creative thought experiment was in conservative foresight.
New York Times columnest David Brooks puts his finger right on our moment. We are in a moment philosophers of science call a "model crisis," when the governing frameworks for how we interpret events, trends, and signals of change stop working. In such a moment, what is needed is a breakthrough reassessment of our assumptions, cognitive biases, and knee-jerk prescriptions. The times demand a penetrating analysis that reaches the roots of the changing systems in our world, and a far-eyed look to the future of what what we can adjust to and what we can influence.
We need the mental flexibility to think outside reigning orthodoxies that provided the right answers to different social, political, and economic questions. We need a new orthodoxy for a new set of problems. This will require new vision, new strategies.
What we need, in other words, is the work of futurist conservatives.
Futurist conservatives apply strategic foresight to either anticipate problems or discover solutions that are crossing the horizon. This requires creativity in applying the wisdom of the past and in reasoning from the future about the novel problems of today. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) is one of the best examples of a futurist conservative we have now. He combines the knowledge of a historian (PhD from Yale) with the practicality and problem solving skills of a consultant (Boston Consulting Group).
Nathan Hitchen said two years ago that conservatives need to take the long view and anticipate what is coming over the horizon. He called these people "futurist conservatives" and described how they would do something most conservatives don't do well: anticipate novelty to prepare creative responses.
He predicted both the increasing tension between the government and private sector over information technology--which we see now playing out between the FBI and Apple--and also the rise of populism in America amid increasing polarization--which we see now as the Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump insurgencies in the Democratic and Republican parties...