Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | February 13, 2009

Futures Tutorial 3


The bottom line to ‘futures’ methodology is “Think Hard.”    That isn’t as cool as a scientific formula, a multivariate regression analysis or even some suped up graphic imputing empiricism.  If you want to think about the future of any organization, institution, group, entity, etc.  then you need to know the past very well.   You need to know more than one perspective and through more than one body of knowledge or academic discipline.

You simply can’t analyze  the future. 

Yet, the study of futures is important.  For example, in the U.S. Army there are very few things you can actually predict when you get out to the 20 year horizon.   Did Army planners in 1930 think they would fight a limited war in Korea in 1950 – how could they?  Or, in 1945 know the Army would put a half-million men into Vietnam in 20 years?  Or in the Vietnamization fig leaf for cut and running in 1971 know a Field Army would go liberate Kuwait in 1991?  Or, during the Cold War contention of an expansionist Soviet Union in 1983 – contending from Afghanistan to Africa to Central America, that the U.S. would fight simultaneous campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan (not against the Commies) in 2003?  You get the drift.

What can be worked, if not predicted, are the technology investments and personnel policy decisions that matter 20 to 30 years later. 

This chart shows the areas of inquiry and the specific steps taken to get ideas to clash.  To think hard about a future 15 to 25 years in the future.

It is mentally demanding work.  Its very, very interesting.


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