Robinson Meyer at The Atlantic was first to opine and gave some reasons why the position is not “outlandish.” Not exactly a glowing endorsement of the work Futurists do. Then Tom Gara at The WSJ picked up the story but didn’t waste his time exploring why Hershey’s would want to explore the future of chocolate. Instead, he mostly focused “corporate jargon.”
And then came Mary Beth Quirk at Consumerist, who mischaracterized “futurists” as fortune tellers using crystal balls. We poked a little fun at these kind of people a couple years ago in our “What people think we do – Futurists” post.
For the lazy blogger, let me google “futurist” for you: “A professional futurist is a person who studies the future in order to help people understand, anticipate, prepare for and gain advantage from coming changes. It is not the goal of a futurist to predict what will happen in the future. The futurist uses foresight to describe what could happen in the future and, in some cases, what should happen in the future.”
The futurists I know are trying to move government policy and corporate planning toward a better future. They are trying to help their organizations understand what happens when emerging technologies and shifting consumer values converge. Entire industries can be disrupted overnight. Companies and governments that fail to respond to consumers’ changing needs will be toppled and replaced by organizations that can. The risks and opportunities are very real. Hiring a futurist might be the best thing an organization can do!