We’ll avoid the whole “did you get the future right” discussion here. [See “how accurate are your forecasts?” if that’s of interest]. Rather, here, let’s look at ourselves as futurists and how we personally view “being right” about the future. In the “Integral Futures” module of Alternative Perspectives class, we discussed Ken Wilber’s notion of everyone being at least partially right, while still acknowledging that some might be more right than others.
The basic argument here is that it’s a good characteristic to not be too sure of the “rightness” of your work (of course, this notion could be less right than others). I remember remarking (well, complaining) once after a briefing that a group had interpreted our scenarios “wrong.” They didn’t get it – they missed what we meant. It was pointed out to me –and I don’t remember who or I’d give credit – that another way to look at it is that once you put an idea out there, it’s fair game how people interpret it, even if that’s not what was intended. In class we referred back to the social constructionists, who suggest that meaning-making is essentially a process of negotiation. And keeping in mind that “right” is also very context-dependent — maybe by a certain set of rules or with a certain power structure, something is not “right,” but if it were different rules and structure, maybe it is the better way.
I have found it very useful to fight my impulse to think I have the right answer or right interpretation to something and hang in there as long as I can and keep the mind open. Cuz once you think you’re right, you tend to switch on your “ignore” button to counter-arguments.
Finally, when I’ve been in a position to hire futurists, I’ve always put a lot of stock in candidates who “aren’t too sure” of their own rightness. Do the “dig in” when challenged and argue harder for their point, or do they listen, consider and maybe ask a clarifying question. I think the latter make better futurists….but I may not be right. Andy Hines