This is the seventh installment in our 25 week series exploring the 25 competencies, or soft skills, that our assessments measure. Each week we’ll give you the definition of that competency, explain its value, and give you tips to help you develop it. This week: Futuristic Thinking.
First, understand that Futuristic Thinking is not a critical skill for the vast majority of people. Unlike the skill we addressed last week, Goal Orientation, which is important at any level of a company, Futuristic Thinking is more critical for those at the higher, more strategic, levels of an organization. As a leader, you will find it invaluable, but most of your staff should focus on developing other skills.
Futuristic Thinking is imagining, envisioning, projecting, and/or creating what has not yet been actualized. That sounds pretty ephemeral doesn’t it? All it boils down to is your ability to anticipate, or dream about, what the future might hold. Great futuristic thinkers are always contemplating what could be. What does the future hold and how can we try to better understand it in the here and now?
Those who are skilled in Futuristic Thinking have no trouble brainstorming the possibilities that could be right around the corner. They look at the current landscape and are able to project what the next steps might be. They don’t get stuck in the weeds, but rather focus on the bigger picture. How will their actions in this area affect those around them? They are great at anticipating new trends and patterns not seen by others.
Futuristic Thinking takes commitment. It can’t be done in five minutes here or there, it requires you to take stock of current issues and trends and try to connect the dots on the bigger picture. What will today’s actions mean for tomorrow? You have to be able to step away from the attention of the immediate in the here and now and let yourself get lost in thought about what could be, something that is not easy for humans in general. It’s hard to do, but it can help you be so much more intentional about your actions and your future.
If you’d like to become a better futuristic thinker, you can start by brainstorming more. For every challenge, problem, or decision that you face, let yourself brainstorm not only different ideas for solving them, but also how those solutions will impact the future. What does each path look like in 1-2 years? 3-5? Think through the follow up and follow through of each of your options. What will the consequences be? Thinking a couple steps ahead can help you avoid many of the unintended consequences that often arise from quick decisions.
If you’d like to learn more ways to develop your Futuristic Thinking skills, download our Futuristic Thinking Rx PDF here.