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A typology of futurists

I had the pleasure, recently, of collaborating with five other futurists at a 2-day workshop. We had a superb time and I am sure we delivered a ton of value to our client, who has taken up a significant new strategic exploration.

Spending time with my colleagues, some of whom I have known for years, and others I met through this event, refreshed my thinking on what futurists do and what they represent. We each brought different things to the event–we're different kinds of futurists. So, risky though it may be, I am experimenting here with some “types” of futurists. I know that many of my colleagues and me in my work, stretch across several categories, so having a set of “types” doesn’t mean I plan to or want to pigeonhole anyone.

So here goes:

The reframer – Adept at, and intent on changing the way any given situation gets looked at. This futurist will give you new ways of thinking about your business, issues, what technology means, and so on.

The coach – The futurist who works to help others get better at exploring the future, through how-to workshops, advice, consulting, and writing.

The mind-changer – The thinker/communicator whose greatest effect and routine habit is to work to get people to change their minds about a critical issue, challenge, or opportunity.

The consciousness raiser This missionary uses facts, stories, ideas, and new concepts to raise consciousness around trends and issues, and to give people the very clear sense that things are changing and they ought to pay attention.

The researcher – This futurist consumes and commands enormous amounts of information, and uses it to validate, explain, and give the rationales for ideas about the future.

The entertainer – The futurist who makes the future a form of entertainment and an experience–but it's fun with a purpose: change minds

The specialist – The futurist who works in depth and intently on a specific field, technology, subject, etc.

The exemplar – The futurist who uses him or her self as an experiment, an intensive technology user, a walking cyborg, an alternative lifestyle liver, etc. Colleagues in the transhumanist movement are great examples of this.

But most of us are blend of these things. So here’s my personal recipe:

35% coach (as emphasized in this blog)
25% reframer
20% mind changer
10% researcher (down from a much higher rate)
10% entertainer (or am I fooling myself? 
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100% Futurist!
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