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Think Like a Futurist: Know What Changes, What Doesn't, and What's Next

ISBN: 978-1-118-23917-9
256 pages
September 2012, Jossey-Bass
Think Like a Futurist: Know What Changes, What Doesn
Push past resistance to discover and own new business territories

Think Like a Futurist shows how to track changes, explore questions, and engage in new thinking that connects today's pressures with tomorrow's realities. Cecily Sommers shows how to apply long-term focus and strategies to needs as diverse as industry forecasts, innovation challenges, leadership development, or future-proofing a brand. By understanding intersecting potentials that one day may impact your organization, you can readily spot emerging trends and market shifts, uncovering opportunities on the horizon.

Think Like a Futurist explores such questions as: Where will new markets emerge over the next 5-10-25 years? What will be the big issues of the day? How will lifestyle, social mores, and policy adapt? And what role do we play in that future?

  • Offers a clear framework for thinking like a futurist, and direction for how to integrate it in high-pressure corporate environments
  • Explains how the social, economic, and environmental crises of our time spring from just four constant and predictable forces
  • Reveals the three dramatic disruptions on the horizon that should be a part of every strategic conversation
  • Written by Cecily Sommers the Founder and President of The Push Institute, a non-profit think tank that tracks significant global trends and their implications for business, government, and non-profit.

Filled with tools and models for a new world, this book should be required reading for strategists and innovators across disciplines.

"Refreshing.  A book that does not follow today’s push to be ‘innovative’ just to snag attention because of the current hot trending keyword.  Matter of fact, Cecily Sommers’ book works to get us away from simply identifying and going for a ride on the latest trend(s) in our respective industries.

Quite the contrary, rather than avoid a scientific or tactical discussion of trend identification, she works to give us the ability to go beyond trends and into the future.

Cecily has drafted a book providing a nice blend of practical reality, philosophy, and practical execution.  It speaks well to current discussions about how to drive ‘innovation’ or, better, creativity within your businesses—however large or small.

All in, this is a book 254 pages long, including index, that is written at a practical level that, after closer study following an initial read-through, provides a methodology for anticipating the future and taking action to meet it.

Provides a methodology for anticipating the future and taking action to meet it.

Think Like a Futurist is a good read for anyone struggling with how to move their organization forward.  Business leaders, product and program managers, service providers will all find the concepts Cecily introduces to be well laid-out with a reasonable amount of supporting content."—The source is a blog: http://jtpedersen.net/2012/11/15/what-ive-read-lately-think-like-a-futurist/

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Introduction ix

Part One: Know—The Four Forces of Change 1

1 The Four Forces of Change 3

2 Resources 11

3 Technology 21

4 Demographics 33

5 Governance 47

Part Two: New—The Zone of Discovery 63

6 Higher Learning 69

7 Phase I: Define 77

8 Phase II: Discover 87

9 Phase III: Distill 97

10 Who Are You? 107

11 Where Are You Going? 145

Part Three: DO—The 5 Percent Rule 175

12 The 5 Percent Rule 177

13 Tinkering: The Genesis of General Mills’s Idea Greenhouse 181

Conclusion 213

Part Four: What’s Next Toolkit 219

The Futurist’s Mind-set 221

Overcoming Resistance to Change 227

Notes 239

Acknowledgments 245

About the Author 247

Index 249

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Cecily Sommers is the founder and president of The Push Institute, a non-profit think tank that tracks significant global trends and their implications for business, government, and the non-profit sector. A global trends analyst and popular speaker, she helps organizations understand and prepare for emerging technologies, markets, and ideas. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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“In Think Like a Futurist... [Cecily Sommers] raises questions and points out realities that anyone fascinated with the future of the global economy should be following.” 
—Adam Belz, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune
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