TEDxUChicago 2011 – Communicating with the Future

by | May 17, 2011 | Business Trends

Futurist Thomas Frey at the TEDx University
of Chicago event

We are a very backward looking society.

We’re very backward looking in that we’ve all personally experienced the past.  As we look around, we see evidence of the past all around us.   The past is very knowable, yet we will spend the rest of our lives in the future.

My job as a futurist is to help turn people around and give them some idea of what the future holds.

Our visions drive us forward.  Great visions have a way of infecting nearly everyone they touch.  As ideas flow into a crowded room, they create wants, needs, and desires, and these, in turn, create markets.  Businesses have become very good at spotting the unmet desires of people, by developing products that fulfilling them. This cyclical force of meeting market demand creates entirely new economies.  And it all starts with the vision.

A vision can be a very powerful tool.

Visions come in many forms.  Sometimes a vision is nothing more than a fleeting thought in the middle of the day, other times they spontaneously develop into elaborate plans demanding a person’s full attention for days on end.

The more detailed a vision is, the more doable it becomes.  A vision comprised of only a few words on a page cannot possibly compare on the likelihood-of-things-happening-scale to a detailed vision that comes with a complete business plan, pro formas, schematic diagrams, parts lists, and animated video.  The vision is only the start.

A great vision begins more as an art form than a science, later adding details, attributes, and emotional commitment as it progresses along on the path to realism.

Most visions are like tiny seedlings, fighting for the nutrients they gain from mindshare, as they spring to life.

It’s quite common, however, for industry politics to come into play, and many of these seedling-like visions get destroyed prematurely.  For some, a new way of doing things can be a threat to another person’s research, and a preemptive strike is considered necessary as a way of protecting a few square miles of scientific turf.

It’s interesting to note that industry observers are becoming far more savvy.  For some, a preemptive strike on the credibility of one form of research can also be viewed as a signal to pay attention to the situation.  It also has a way of driving key pieces of research underground, to emerge later as a more durable body of work.


If you’d like to get more information about the process for “Communicating with the Future” or to have Futurist Thomas Frey speak at one of your events, please contact Deb at deb (at) davinciinstitute.com or 303-666-4133.

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