As does any group offering professional services, futurists have to consider their unique response to a client’s needs. Do they have the most industry knowledge? Are they particularly good with futures tools, such as scenarios? Can they do an excellent environmental scan?
The other side is that companies, associations, agencies, have their own intent in calling in futurists. Maybe this is their first venture into looking to the future. Perhaps they are experienced users of strategic foresight. Or they might believe a well-used futures tool could enhance the results of a project they are already engaged in.
These considerations are all practical, and important to making a good fit with a futures firm. More than this, though, organizations have their own unique way in which they will approach the future and make use of futures information. This is more about “this is the way _we_ do things,” than anything else. It’s useful for the organization to get a good sense of what that unique approach is.
So organizations have to ask themselves what’s special about their own approach to the future. Three questions to ask: 1. How is talk about the future received here? Nervous laughter? Advice to stick to immediate issues? Relief and delight? Some variant of these three?
2. What are our assumptions about the future and how do we make them? Are they based on history, our past successes? Do we have a vision, or a plan for the future? How do we deal with uncertainties?
3. What kind of work on the future would best fit here? An expert panel? Scenarios? Training for people to develop a “futures mindset?”
These three questions can spark an internal discussion that leads to a more satisfying engagement with the right futures firm.