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Facilitating Foresight @ veryfuture.xyz was launched following a major life change, taken with faith that my and my family's future would be all the better for it. For those of us working as professional futurists, it seems that our personal and professional lives move in parallel.
My approach to strategic foresight is grounded in the fact that there are no perfect answers. In fact, there are no answers about the future. This is why it can be so hard to make confident decision about the future. We have to lead by intuition and make decisions based on abstract ideas about what might be or what could be. We lay a foundation for a future that can't fully be articulated in today's words or demonstrated by past or present experience.
Our intuition, though, does come from knowledge and experience. While not rooted in quantifiable data, it is based on our lived experiences and the knowledge we acquire along the way. “The future” isn’t a quantifiable abstraction forward from past data. There is no certainty that if we invest a certain amount of money and time we’ll have the outcomes we desire. Intuition, fearlessness, and trust in our own decision-making are critical to future success.
So how does this run parallel with my own life? Many years ago, I met my husband while living in Kenya. From the day we met, I began to imagine a future in which my family could embody the world I wanted to live in. A future in which we break down barriers of otherness and difference. A future in which we break down barriers between powerful decision-makers and the people whose lives and work are impacted by that decision. A future in which people can move around the world with ease and comfort no matter where they come from, the education they have, or the color of their skin.
Earlier this year, we moved back to Kenya from the Bay Area with out two very young sons (two and five). There was a year in gorgeous Humboldt County in there as well, but that is a story for another time. Moving from the Bay Area - the revered home of Silicon Valley - to Kenya leave many people confused. Many don't understand why we would make that choice. Media and Hollywood have done a great job painting a picture that life in the US, even more so in the Bay Area, is superior while life in Kenya (anywhere in the so-called country of Africa) is filled with poverty, violence, disease, and corruption. But reality is far more nuanced. And the future looks very different from the past stories we have been told.
Kenya offers so many of the experiences that I had as a child, which are now harder to come by in the Bay Area. Freedom for children, for one. Independence and the confidence and knowledge to comes with it is priceless for kids. Less consumerism, fewer toys, fewer electronics, fewer choices. Less processed food. More connection to the natural environment. Farming is a way of life, and humans and wildlife co-exist more closely than in the Bay. Here in Kenya, we can see climate change in the farms that are dry and in the starving cattle that graze around the streets of Nairobi. We can taste it in the meat that is tough and without fat. Perhaps it is depressing to experience it so viscerally but awareness is critical to building a sustainable future.
At the same time, In Kenya, we are in a world of possibilities. Nairobi is a bustling cosmopolitan city that surrounded with vibrancy, creativity, and social community. I am on a WhatsApp group with about a dozen neighbours. Our kids play with their neighbourhood friends unsupervised. The grocery delivery driver knows my name and I have his number in case I need anything. If I miss a yoga class or morning walking session with school moms, someone is going to call me and see if I am ok. Life is designed for intergenerational living. Parents, young kids, and grandparents can comfortable gather together in restaurants that meet the needs of all generations with playgrounds, beer, and tea all served together.
These are the lived experiences that inform my ideas about possible futures. It's with this same sense of global awareness and questioning the status-quo that I approach futures research. It's with the same reverence for intuition and intangible knowledge that I approach strategic foresight. It's with with this same level of fearlessness that I approach program design and facilitation. Everything is possible until it isn't.
Facilitating Foresight was launched in tandem with my move to Kenya, opening up an entirely new world of possibilities. I will continue the exciting work building Dolby Labs' foresight capacity and Futures Council while exploring new and interesting opportunities. It’s an exciting time to think about my personal future and to grow the complex and fluid work of being an organisational futurist.
I plan to use this space to farther codify my methodology and ideas. I welcome any ideas, collaborations, and discussions. I am sure the next decade will look different for organisational foresight, and I hope we can design it together.
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