So sorry if you’ve gone to Amazon and seen Thinking about the Future selling for over $2,011.22. Of course, feel free to buy it at that price . Unfortunately, it recently went out of stock and I was not notified. I will re-stock when I get back in Houston on Wednesday and it will be back to $14.95. Again, sorry for the inconvenience. Andy Hines
Here’s a great review of Teaching about the Future. It comes from Jay Gary of the Regent University Strategic Foresight program. It says something about the foresight community in one program is willing to promote the work of another. Of course, the Houston program did help Regent when it was starting out, and my colleague and co-author Peter Bishop has always been happy to help new programs get off the ground. In fact, part of the reason for writing this book was to help inspire the development of new courses and programs. Our view is that the need to spread foresight education transcends any competitive concerns and that a healthy foresight ecosystems benefits us all in the long run….and we’re all about the long run! Andy Hines
I’m happy to note that Consumershift is now available in digital format on Amazon. It’s been a year since its release and sales have chugged along slow and steady after the initial “bump” upon release. So, now it’s available digitally for just $9.99. I still have an “adequate” supply of hard copies, so if you’d like a bulk order of those, we can negotiate a great rate! Andy Hines
PS: I did not suddenly pick up an editor — Chris Snook is head of No Limit Publishing. Hopefully this is fixed soon and you’ll wonder what I’m talking about.
The second book-writing collaboration between Peter Bishop and myself has produced a new textbook, Teaching about the Future: The Basics of Foresight Education, published by Palgrave MacMillan. This book brings together more than thirty-five years of experience in teaching about the future from the University of Houston’s Graduate Program in Futures Studies.
In addition to serving as a text for the UH foresight program, we hope to spread the practice of teaching futures studies and strategic foresight to the rest of the academic world by showing how it’s done at UH. We believe that students at all levels of education would benefit from instruction on how to think about and indeed influence the future. Our goal is that educators teach as much about the future as they do about the past. After all, the future is where we are all going to live!
We would like to thank all of the extended Houston Futures community for being a part of this textbook. The program today is the result of countless contributions over the years that have adjusted, changed, modified, added and subtracted to the current curriculum. Our job with this book was to “get it on paper” and share it with the world.
The curriculum is summarized in a comprehensive fashion, so that those seeking to introduce foresight to their schools have a conceptual guide from which to select and design curricula or classes of their own. The book is organized into three parts:
- Part One, Understanding, contains the conceptual backdrop to thinking about the future.
- Part Two, Mapping, describes how to construct forecasts of potential future outcomes or alternative futures.
- Part Three, Influencing, explores how to take action to shape the future.
Individual topics range from the basics of scanning, forecasting, visioning, and planning to social change, systems thinking, and alternative perspectives. Andy Hines
I was pleased to see Global Foresight Books has listed ConsumerShift as one of its recommended business books. Global Foresight Books is run by Mike Marien, whom many of you probably remember as the long-time editor of the Future Survey, which I always felt was the single best source of futures scanning hits for many years. The new service is totally web-based and accessible to all — a terrific resource any futurist should be taking advantage of. A great site to peruse for fresh reading material and you can sign up for his newsletter and feeds. Andy Hines
Below is a tip I prepared for my friend and colleague Hope Katz-Gibbs at the BeInkandescent E-zine. Anyone thinking about writing a book or how to get one published would benefit from taking a look at all the tips that Hope has pulled together. Mine, which is #22, is below:
“Working with a publisher to do the mechanics of book publishing—editing, proofing, graphics—is a valuable service that can be difficult to find and coordinate on our own. But if funds are tight when it comes to promoting the book and you can’t hire a professional publicist, get busy in the social media sphere. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all provide great platforms to expand your base and establish yourself as a thought leader on your book topic. These outreach outlets have helped get ConsumerShift off to a terrific start.” — Andy Hines
NOTE: I just produced a little “thought piece” for the Association of Professional Futurists newsletter that I thought I’d share with ya’ll.
I wonder, futurist colleagues, how many more bestsellers will be written about the future with no mention of foresight or futurists? Once again, I’ve somewhat reluctantly forced myself to look at another bestseller that clients are talking about and I can no longer avoid. I anticipate a familiar experience of some noted authority of some sort discovering and reporting on the future in a highly engaging and readable fashion–and ignoring our nascent field. The latest entry is Taleb’s “The Black Swan.”
I will try—most likely in vain—to avoid sounding jealous and like I’m chewing on sour grapes, or that I’m sitting on the pity pot and whining. Or indignant. You name it. Rather, I approach this work from the perspective of trying to crack the code. How does Taleb, in this case, package the need for the very basic tenets of foresight and climb the bestseller list with it. What are we futurists missing?
This book makes an excellent case for the formation of a field devoted to foresight. If we did not exist, it would be a welcome push to get to work (and maybe it does serve that purpose anyway). It includes 29 pages of references, yet not a single professional futurist is mentioned. You’d think, maybe just by accident, but no, not a single one—at least to my knowledge.
It is a work that pokes fun at forecasting, mostly economic forecasting. Not a single mention of “scenarios.” The term does not appear in the index. No mention of Peterson’s “Out of the Blue” book on wildcards. Or Oliver Markley’s excellent new piece on wildcards that was featured in a previous Compass. Or even wildcards!
The core message of the book is that since we are so bad at forecasting, that we should simply avoid it. We are treated to several entertaining chapters on the foibles of forecasting that includes all the typical errors and biases. It’s a slightly different take than Gilbert’s “Stumbling on Happiness” but delivers essentially the same message – people are not good at thinking about the future. This, apparently, is a news flash!
Ah, starting to sound chippy. So, let’s examine some of the evidence.
• In the prologue he suggests that if 9/11 had been “reasonably conceivable” it would not have happened. As we know, it was indeed conceivable, and strangely enough, later in the book, he suggests that he foresaw the possibility himself. He reaches the same conclusion many times in the book that the failure to act on a forecast (prediction in his terms) means that we shouldn’t bother in the first place. I don’t think any of us would suggest that not acting is okay, but nor do I think we’d suggest that because we failed to act in one or even many instances, that we should simply stop trying.
• He talks about the need to focus on “anti-knowledge” or things we don’t know. Futurists call that environmental scanning and in his case emphasizing the “weak signals” of change. A methodology already exists!
• He talks about the folly of the Maginot Line. I, and I suspect many other futurists, have been using this as an example for using alternative futures for years. But he shows no awareness or says nothing on this topic of alternative futures/forecasts. Or, as mentioned earlier, the existence of scenario planning.
• He talks about an “increasingly recursive environment.” But no mention of systems thinking, certainly core to futurists’ work and long a core course in our Master’s Program at Houston.
• When he returns to 9/11 and suggests that legislators lack the courage to advocate for prevention, we might mention Hal Linstone’s “discounting the future” principle that he put for the several decades ago.
• He suggests that most analysis leaves out the outliers and study the ordinary. Again, I’m sure many of us have emphasized the need for including outlier perspectives. I know it was one of our guidelines in Thinking about the Future.
• He mentions the tendency to mistake the map for the territory. This reminds me the “island” of California map that GBN so effectively uses in its Introduction to Scenario Planning course to show how the official map can often be long at odds with reality.
And so on and so forth. Again, an elegant case for the need for foresight. It’s an interesting book. A great read. Just that minor oversight of, well, futurists. So, beyond complaining, what is this telling us? Whether the oversight was intentional or not, it suggests that there is no penalty for doing so. I don’t recall any mainstream book reviews that flogged him for ignoring foresight (though I wasn’t paying much attention). So, we are still on the margins – not exactly news.
The good news is that there is a hunger for very basic information about the future. Perhaps we need to put on our “pop” hats more often and produce more accessible pieces aimed at a general audience? If we don’t, the evidence is clear that someone else will!
Anotherr piece of good news is that APF is in its tenth year. As part of my doctoral research, I looked into the origin of new fields and found some evidence that our evolution as a field is not all that different from others. If you will, we’re right about where we ought to be (of course, there are alternative paths to development, too). It takes a long time for a field to move from the margin into the mainstream. The formation of a professional association is one of the guideposts along the way. And there are some other positive signs as well, but I’ll leave that for another piece.
I remember that when we formed APF ten years ago, there was some debate about whether to just keep the group informal or to go down the admittedly more difficult path of building a professional association. Fortunately, we chose the latter, and we’ve significantly enlarged the community and built some positive momentum. We don’t have to start from scratch, but we need to take the next step forward, and spread the message about who we are and what we do – in a way that is more accessible in order to reach a wider audience. It will take time and patience, but I, for one, cannot think of anything I’d rather do, or for a more useful endeavor for the APF to undertake as it moves into its second decade. Andy Hines
My book on the future of values, ConsumerShift: How Changing Values Are Reshaping the Consumer Landscape, is now available on Amazon for a special introductory price of $16.47! If you’d like to order bulk copies (10 or more), I can offer an additional discount from my personal stash. Better still, if you’d like me to come in and talk to your group about the book, we can arrange a special rate that includes books for all participants.
To recap the book: Values are changing in a consistent direction over time. Understanding these changes will provide critical insight for understanding the future consumer landscape and designing products, services, and offerings that “fit.” The book “translates” the values changes into seven emerging need states, brought to life in the form of seven future personas, and provides a persona customization kits for those who want to tailor them to their specific needs. It will help you and your team make sense of rapidly changing consumer behavior – where they are coming from, where they are going, and what they are looking for.
Hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much I did writing it! Andy Hines
I’m pleased to say that Peter Bishop and I are about to submit the first draft of our second book together to Palgrave Macmillan Publishing: Teaching about the Future: The Basics of Foresight Education.
The University of Houston Futures Studies program has been teaching and preparing professional futurists for decades Now it is time to expand that mission to educators everywhere. We believe that it is possible to include futures thinking into every discipline at every level of education, particularly high schools, colleges, and professional schools. In fact, it is our vision that in the long run, teaching about the future is as common as teaching about the past. The past is where the record of human achievement and failure appear; the future is where people will live as time goes on. Should they not get equal time? Should not every high school and college student who takes a course in world history also take a course in world futures? Should they not learn to envision, plan and execute plans to create change toward a more preferable future? Of course they should. This book, we believe, will be a positive step in that direction. Andy Hines
One of the more useful frameworks we’ve adopted at the University of Houston’s Futures Studies program was the was the one we developed for our Thinking about the Future (TATF) book. The framework was first discussed at an Association of Professional Futurists‘ Professional Development meeting as a high-level scheme for categorized the main types of activities that comprise strategic foresight. When we were putting together the TATF book, we collected literally hundreds of guidelines for doing strategic foresight from three-dozen professional futurists globally, and we needed a framework to organize them. Thus, the marriage was made, as the guidelines sorted into the framework quite well.
Since then, we’ve been organizing our curriculum around this framework, and use it as one of our introductory principles for how to better think about the future. Enjoy! Andy Hines.