The unrecognized present

by John Mahaffie on February 22, 2012

Foggy sceneFuturists, by definition, are supposed to talk about the future. So this is a little embarrassing. I’ve recognized, for some time now, that a lot of my work is about showing people what’s already going on. That’s about today! Yet, it’s enough to blow their minds, sometimes, though I’ve not even begun to tell the about the future.

The lesson in this is to make your efforts in exploring change about any change that matters to the people and situations in front of you, whether people are behind the times, and catching up, or pretty much up to date, and needing to understand what they can about what’s next. So don’t worry about the differences, or force distinctions between what’s true now versus what might be in the future.

In fact, you can use the “unrecognized present,” pointed out and explained, to get people to more fully understand what lies ahead. Doing that could be as simple as showing them the leading edge of change, the early adoption of a technology, the first examples and experiments on things, a leading place that is a bellwether for change, and so on. Your advantage: you may be able to bring forth a witness, a video, or pictures of that poorly-understood present, and make it real to them. It’s like showing people the future–almost!

Tip of the pen here to my colleague Katherine Green, an expert in workforce futures. She made me capture and write down the phrase I’ve taken here as my title, and promise to write about it.

Image: sumidiot, via Flickr, creative commons attribution license