This period’s reading was very interesting. The author, Sommers, began the instructional journey for her futurist methodology. She describes her model as Define, Discover, Distill. In the Define phase a person is to start with a Best Questions activity. This is where a person begins asking the best questions about what they are trying to understand. A Best Question “goes to the heart of the challenge and purposely invites learning.” (Sommers, p79) The idea is to begin stretching your brain in a way that forms a foundation for the futurist thinking you are planning. This is a structured exercise that looks that the philosophical and high-level perspectives. The example of Virgin is given to illustrate this perspective. Virgin’s vision is to challenge the everyday and go into virgin (new) territories. (Sommers, p84) Virgin is not defined by the different types of business that it engages, but instead by the brand and identity it has created. This vision is reflective of the Define phase as it focused on the challenge it wished to solve from a philosophical approach.
In support of the vision, a company must understand where it is going. This understand should align with the vision and also help a company define the future existence and what it may look like and include. In the case of Virgin, they have stated they will have a hotel on the moon and are currently working with company exploring passenger spaceflight. This follows the idea of going into new territories.
Moving into Discover I learned something that I believe I may have known, but never really thought about in the way it was presented by the author. The three steps to the Discover phase are Pour and Stir, Play and Make and Dream and Scheme. (Sommers, p87)
Pour and Stir is about gathering new information that help you understand your Best Question better. This helps place reality around the philosophical.
Play and Make focuses on thinking differently and outside the box by introducing ‘play’ activities like games, experiences and scenarios. This helps the brain make new connections and can introduce alternative thinking. This is an area I will expand a little because it provided me a new perspective.
Dream and Scheme is taking what has been produced from the first two steps and putting them to the test. Evaluate and challenge them to the point of finding the top answers and options.
These are straight forward steps to looking at the future, which I appreciate completely. What really caught my attention was when the author talked about transitions from one step to the next. The author talks about playing music as a transition tool. (Sommers, pg93) The idea is that by playing music the mood and thinking of people changes to be more creative. Consider a group of people that you would like to think creatively, how do you prepare them for such a request, especially if they have been thinking more linear and restricted? Playing music can open the mind to creativity. If you want to test this, try playing music at any time when you are engaged in another task. The music will bring feelings, memories and/or visions to your mind. This is the opening of the doorway to thinking more creatively.
I had never thought of this perspective but have seen it many times at conferences. I have not used this method when I have spoken but am now looking at altering my approach. I know this may seem like a small piece of the overall book about being a Futurist. However, I feel it is a strong message to help people add a more creative injection into group thinking.
Next, I venture into Distill and look forward to challenging what I have created in the previous chapters.
Sommers, Cecily (2012). Think Like A Futurist: Know What Changes, What Doesn’t and What’s Next. San Francisco, CA – Jossey-Bass