As I am continuing my reading of the book “Think Like A Futurist” by Cecily Sommers, I have come across an interesting subject, but prefaced by a sea of unnecessary words. I have been enjoying the book up until now and still find the topic of becoming a futurist quite interesting. However, starting on Page 63 the author is defining their Zone of Discovery (ZoD) model and taking much longer than necessary to explain it. The ZoD has three phases – Define, Discover, Distill. The idea around the ZoD is to practice using your left-brain and right-brain throughout the exercise. While the three phases are to be more clearly explained in future chapters, the most interesting information was around how our brains work. If we focus only on our left-brain for planning and strategy, we are only going to get analytical perspectives that focus more on the current period versus the future. However, if we only utilize our right-brain, we will expand our minds to consider many possibilities and options that are not grounded. The author recommends a left-brain, right-brain, left-brain approach to ensure future thinking combines the best of what our brains are capable. (pg65) The ZoD model looks at first Defining the Best Questions you can ask about the future. This will be founded on history and experiences using your left-brain. Discover, Phase II, is about using your right-brain to disconnect from the analytical and explore possibilities and options through creative activities. The author notes that left-brain people will balk at these activities for being useless, but the point is to get your right-brain engaged and considering possibilities without the analytics hindrance. In the Distill phase you return to the left-brain to take the information captured in the previous two phases and create a plan.
The approach seems fairly straight forward and I did find the information regarding use of both sides of the brain very interesting. I admit that I am typically one of the people less interested in the games and exercises designed to encourage right-brain thinking. I typically can consider possibilities with plenty of creativity, so the exercises seem excessive. However, I have also learned that groups need to help to ensure everyone is moving along the journey together. Based on the reading, I will be a bit more accepting of the games and activities designed to promote right-brain engagement.
My only criticism of this week’s reading is the previously mentioned unnecessary content. The author spent much of the time giving examples, quoting people and stating the same concepts multiple times. I include this in this week’s review because I feel it is important to not only explain the value I am gaining from the book, but also to communicate perceptions regarding the experience. If anyone planned to read the book, this section could feel a bit ‘fluffy’ for solid content.
Overall, I remain intrigued by the author’s methods of becoming a futurist. I am interested to see the phases of ZoD explained in detail. I feel people do need to engage both sides of their brain to be more thorough in their thinking.
Sommers, Cecily (2012). Think Like A Futurist: Know What Changes, What Doesn’t and What’s Next. San Francisco, CA – Jossey-Bass