Tips for Developing your “Futurist Mindset”

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To succeed in your career you need to spot trends and have the ability to share your insights with key decision makers says Rohit Talwar

How much time do you spend thinking about the future?  Are you keeping up with technological change and ideas about how society and business will evolve?

A futurist mindset means constantly looking over the horizon and adjusting our present-day actions in response to what we see. It also means acting quickly when we see new opportunities and risks. It means experimenting with new ideas and ways of doing things, so that we, as well as our organisations, can learn and evolve. As futurists we believe it’s important to prepare for a future that does not resemble the past. How can Assistants take these ideas and make the most of them?

Communicate with Everyone

The people who are least surprised by the future tend be those with the broadest radar. They are always exploring both the issues of today and the factors that could shape the future. They do their data gathering in the most natural way possible – by talking constantly to people throughout the organisation as well as to others. After all, if you have the opportunity to talk to the CEO of a key supplier while she is waiting for a meeting – why not ask questions and share ideas?

Learn Something New Every Day

Allocate at least a couple of hours a week to exploring what’s coming next. Good influencers learn quickly to establish trend spotter habits, seeking out new information.  Subscribe to newsletters, follow thought leaders on social media, join webinars, and work daily to widen your media diet to include information that broadens your thinking and your knowledge.

Let it Go

Letting go of that which no longer serves us is of critical importance if we are to understand and act in the face of an uncertain, emerging future.

For people who are highly organised and efficient, letting go of cherished assumptions and ways of working can be hard.

Long-held ideas and beliefs that have served us well may need to be retired! Our thoughts and beliefs can become a prison which prevents us from exploring and making sense of a world that’s changing. Also key here is acknowledging that our own ideas may not be the best ones for a given situation, so we need to be ready to trust other people’s ideas.  When accepting new ideas, we may need to act upon them quickly if they are to have an impact (they may go out of date otherwise!)

Help Shape a Forward-Looking Culture

Look at the dominant behaviours and stories in your organization. Are you celebrating and rewarding those who scout out emerging change and pioneer new ideas? How do you use public spaces – are staff surrounded by constantly changing images, icons, and questions focused on what’s next? These are all areas where you can use your influencing skills with senior executives to help shape the culture.

Keep Developing Your Soft Skills

Often our success has been based on our technical ability, yet with the pace and scale of emerging change softer skills will become increasingly important.

Presuming that automation takes away the need for some technical know-how, we may all need to demonstrate a greater tolerance of uncertainty and complexity. We’ll also need to exhibit empathy to our colleagues, and value collaboration and relationship development. In your central role as an influencer and leader, Assistants need to take every opportunity to enhance their ability to handle the stress of change and their ability to make the most of their interactions with others.

A futurist mindset is something we need to develop and share. Whether formally or informally, more individuals are stepping up to be future influencers and leaders in the workplace.

To succeed in your career, you need to be an influencer, spot trends and have the ability to share your insights with key decision makers.  These skills can be learned and developed because they tap into our very human ability to look ahead and be interested in what is coming next. This capacity to keep learning and experimenting into the emerging future is one of the important traits that will distinguish the best performers, and the people with most influence, from those who’ll be left behind.

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About Author

Rohit Talwar et al

Rohit Talwar, Steve Wells, Alexandra Whittington, Helena Calle, and April Koury are from Fast Future which publishes books from future thinkers around the world exploring how developments such as AI, robotics and disruptive thinking could impact individuals, society and business, and create new trillion-dollar sectors. Two new books from Fast Future are: ‘Beyond Genuine Stupidity - Ensuring AI Serves Humanity’, and ‘The Future - Reinvented: Reimagining Life, Society, and Business’. See: www.fastfuture.com. Find us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/fastfuture; on Linked In http://www.linkedin.com/in/talwar and read our blog http://blog.fastfuturepublishing.com/

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