Is Futures Thinking a Luxury?

Again we meet in the spaces of learning: Marcus, Marguerite, Bonnie, Phillip, Alan, Toney and Steve. Like water droplets on a petal, we move as individuals yet are compelled towards convergence. Bonnie asks this week’s question: Is futures thinking a luxury?

1

Futures thinking is not a luxury. Humanity has always relied on foresight to manage its present stresses. Thinking about the future may be considered a luxury for many, especially for those of us who are privileged in the developing world. However all of us struggle day to day, and all of us hope for a better future. Being in the jungle does not preclude us from thinking about the future. In the jungle we seek fulfillment of our basic needs. We may not have the luxury beyond the here and now of our daily distractions from creativity and alternative futures.

2

All of us are preparing for a life beyond what we had anticipated or imagined. All of us face the uncertain, which creates the invitation for change. Thus futures thinking requires energy and time. Such investment could be considered a delicious temporal luxury. But can we afford not to indulge if we want to get beyond the jungle?

All of us desire and want to conceptualise better futures from this investment in thinking about the future. It is not an indulgent exercise in existentialism. Rather it provides us with the space to become authentic, our own authorities, determining the futures we desire.

Thus we must challenge our boundaries, for our boundaries are used to limit and keep us powerless. They hold us back. They hold humanity back. Futures thinking is not an indulgence, but a necessity.

3

Futures thinking is not counterproductive, rather an exercise in transcendence. In this transcendence the collective Collaborative Commons is like a pooling water drop of humanity coming together in all its hopes and all its mistakes. The privilege is to use the future wisely so the other opportunities are envisaged from these Commons and we create new futures for humanity.

4

So let’s turn this on its head and say that futures thinking is a luxury which should be plentiful and accessible to all. Futures thinking privileges the narratives of our many selves. As students of life, it is our core business to recognise the patterns across our narratives and our lifespans and how they play out as scenarios, as challenges for the ego and invitations to the unknown.

We do little justice to ourselves and others, our emotions and life experiences if we do not accept the invitation futures thinking extends. In this space we can both dream and act. Many would argue that futures thinking is risky business. We would argue it is a necessity where the hopeful returns outweigh the fear of loss.

USC Futures gang at work