Future Foresight - Creating Preferred Futures

PathFinder4 Ecosystem Expert and Influencer, Andrew Vorster explains how to create preferred innovation futures.

For years now I have cringed when someone introduces me as a "Futurist". Thanks to media attention, marketing hype and the proliferation of snake-oil- salesmen, the once respected academic discipline of foresight now conjures up images of mystics and shamans and if I had a pound for every reference made to me concerning crystal balls then I could have retired years ago!

Let me set the record straight - a futurist does not "predict the future" - quite simply because there is no such thing as "THE" future - there are MANY possible futures. The role of a futurist is to envisage and outline as many of these as they can through methodical and disciplined approaches utilising a variety of constructs and frameworks in order to help their clients determine the preferred future and start creating it.

Futuring is most commonly applied to inform strategy and drive innovation and at a high level the
process is quite simple.

  • Start by mapping the current state of the particular area of interest and understand the history of how it got to that state.
  • Establish a baseline for the "expected" future if nothing changes.
  • Scan for the trends that are driving change and the impacts they might have.
  • Extrapolate multiple different "possible" futures and their associated implications.
  • Pick the preferred future and start building it.

To bring this to life, lets look at an (oversimplified and by no means exhaustive) example of the topic - the future of personal transportation.

Current State

  • Today, millions of people all over the world make use of cars powered by internal combustion engines using fossil fuel instead of horses.
  • People die in vehicle accidents due to human error.
  • We got here because Henry Ford showed us that we didn't need faster horses and
    City streets were becoming so congested with horse manure that it threatened to drown us (hey! I warned you this was an oversimplified example!).


  • Cities will become so polluted that we won't be able to live in them.
  • Increasing numbers of people continue to die in vehicle accidents.
  • We will run out of fossil fuels.


  • Increasing public awareness of environmental impacts of pollution and fossil fuels.
  • Climate change fears driving emissions policy leading to entire countries banning combustion engines.
  • Alternative fuels leading to low / no emissions from vehicles.
  • Battery technology dramatically improving.
  • Artificial intelligence reducing chance of human error in almost every aspect of life.
  • Technology accelerating innovation in every industry.

Possible Futures

  • All electric autonomous vehicles.
  • No cars at all.
  • Total ban on personal transportation in favour of mass transportation.
  • Personal transportation on demand.

One Preferred Future

  •  Personal transportation on demand in the form of renewable energy powered autonomous drones - ones that fly, roll, ski, float / whatever is appropriate in order to maximise ease of use and minimise impact on environment and society in general.

The above is not a "prediction" per se (although when it comes about I am going to point people back to this article!). It is an extrapolation based on what I believe to be a very plausible future based on the work that I do tracking TIPS (Technologies, Innovations, Patents; Start-ups).  It's a future that I personally believe will become a reality before I die of natural causes. Multiple companies have already started to build towards this very future that I have outlined.

As an Innovation  Consultant (my preferred title), I use the above approach to help my clients make informed decisions about their future strategy and above all ignite their innovation initiatives.  If you want to build preferred futures I urge you to take a look at the video above and get in touch.




Sign up for Ideas from PathFinder4

 Andrew Vorster is an Innovation Consultant and Storyteller working with organisations to develop their incubation labs or in-house foresight, trends tracking and idea harvesting.  He is also very involved in the start-up community developing business models and product propositions.





No comments so far - why not be the first?

(HTML markup not supported)

Quantifying the Beautiful Game: How Analytics and Big Data is Helping to Shape Football.

In a world of rising transfer fees and ballooning costs, Premier League clubs are turning to data to streamline the running of their organisations.

Questions CIOs Are Asking About Digital Disruption

Last week we had the pleasure of meeting CIOs and key decision makers responsible for innovation and IT at the True North Breakfast with a View briefing. Their observations and questions about disruptive innovation are perhaps common to many

Defining Training Needs in a Disruptive World

Organisational psychologist and coach, Hugo Immink, explores why conventional corporate training no longer works in a disruptive world; and what to do about it.

Does Size Really Matter: An Insight into Whether You Can Be Too Small or Too Big to Disrupt Your Market

Winner of the PathFinder4 student blog competition, Georgie Fairweather, explores whether you can be too small or too big to disrupt your market.

Cybercriminals Cause Havoc. People and Culture are the Answer.

In the defence of our businesses against cybercrime, Tony Dimech discussesa holistic approach to security with people and culture at its heart

Practicing Law in a Different World

50% of UK business leaders think their business model will cease in the next 5years. Lawyers need to know how disruption affects clients and their practice.

Disruptive Alliances: Six Lessons from Antony and Cleopatra

The do's and don'ts of creating successful alliances for disruptive innovation in the digital economy, looking at the lessons from Antony and Cleopatra's union.

Get Ahead of the Pack and Disrupt

Investment in digital is essential to stay in the game. The only way to get ahead of your competitors in many industries to lead the pack and disrupt.

Video: The Impact of Disruption on Business

The world is changing fast, very fast. Watch Marc Dowd discuss the changing world of the technology, how the consumer responds, and how business should react.

Corporates and Start-ups Should Collaborate - But How Can It Succeed?

Many corporates see the need to partner with start-ups to innovate. This article looks at the challenges from the start-up's point of view.

PathFinder4 Africa Launches 9th February

Announcing the launch of PathFinder4 Africa. We are pleased to announce the launch of the first PathFinder4 leaders meeting outside of the UK.

My Children May Not Need a Driving License to Get to Work, But Will They Even Have a Job.

The world is being disrupted. Perhaps no-where is this more obviously challenging to our psychology and the world of work than the driverless car.

Isn't Blockchain Illegal? And other questions............

It may come as no surprise that Blockchain specialists have identified this as one the of top FAQs We explain the good and the bad of Blockchain.

Disrupt or Be Disrupted: The Impact on Businesses Large and Small

Marc Dowd talks about Disruptive Innovation at the Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce Lunch 17th January 2017

Are You Ready to Disrupt in 2017?

New features emerging from the PathFinder4 ecosystem for disruptive innovation.

Why I Joined an Ecosystem for Disruptive Innovation

The benefits of working with thought provoking people in an ecosystem for disruptive innovation.

The Benefit of Disruptive Innovation: a Day of Illustration

The benefit of disruptive innovation: a day of illustration. Reflections on differing views of disruptive innovation.

What is Disruptive Innovation?

There are a number of buzz phrases from digital transformation, to digital disruption, and disruptive innovation, but what does it all mean?

PathFinder4 contact details

info AT PathFinder4.com

Europe: +44 (0)207 993 9043
North America: +1 514 242 0810
Africa: +27 82 442 3397

PathFinder4 Company Details

PathFinder4 Limited

Registered in England and Wales
Number: 10267577

©Copyright - PathFinder4 2017