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Futures Thinking Mythbusters

Futures Thinking Mythbusting

Myth: Futures thinking tries to predict the future.

Fact:  Futures thinking does not attempt to predict the future. There are a range of possible futures and the future can be actively shaped by the decisions we take today. Futures thinking enables us to better prepare for the range of different futures that are all possible and plausible.

Myth: Futures thinking isn’t worth doing as it often gets it wrong.

Fact: Thinking about the future is not about being right or wrong. Through exploring the range of possible futures, we are able to test our assumptions and open our minds to generate new insights and make new connections.

Myth: Futures thinking doesn’t help me make decisions today.

Fact: Futures thinking is about making better decisions today. By exploring what may happen in the future, we are able to provide policy advice that is more resilient to changing conditions and take advantage of new opportunities.

Myth: Futures thinking is not based on evidence.

Fact: Futures thinking draws on a range of evidence and insights. This includes quantitative trends based on hard data, as well as qualitative trends, literature reviews and stakeholder insights. Different data sources will be used for different projects depending on the objectives, data availability and the policy area.

Myth: Futures thinking is only concerned with the future and not the past.

Fact: This depends on the objectives of the exercise and the types of futures thinking techniques used. Futures thinking can look back to better understand what has happened in the past and what appears to be happening now to identify what could happen in the future.

Myth: By applying futures thinking you can future-proof your policy advice.

Fact: Given the future is constantly being shaped, it’s not possible to completely future-proof your policy advice. But futures thinking will help you to make your policy advice more robust to changing conditions by identifying the external events that might trigger the need for policy adjustment, how to monitor for those external events and what the policy adjustments should be. Futures thinking is an open-ended process and as new insights and information emerges, you need to revisit and test whether your assumptions continue to be valid.

Last updated: 
Tuesday, 26 November 2019

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