The IFTF Blog
Remembering Andrew J. Lipinski 1920-2012
Andrew J. Lipinski, a senior research fellow at IFTF from its earliest days in Connecticut until his retirement in the late 1980's, passed away on Saturday, December 29, 2012 at the age of 92. Andy contributed to the founding futures methodologies of IFTF and stretched the practice of forecasting to include narrative scenarios, a variety of modeling methodologies, and conflict resolution processes using future scenarios. He was the co-author with former IFTF president Roy Amara of the book, Business Planning for An Uncertain Future, as well as numerous scholarly articles and business reports on topics ranging from strategic planning, data processing, the future of the telephone industry, energy supply and demand, photovoltaics, healthcare, and gun control.
Here, IFTF's Distinguished Fellow and former president, Bob Johansen, shares his personal memories of Andy:
I first met Andy Lipinski in Washington, DC, in 1972, at the International Conference on Computer Communications. This was the conference that first introduced the ARPANet (the predecessor of today's Internet) to the public. Andy was at the meeting talking about research that Institute for the Future was doing on "people communicating with people" through the ARPANet (much like what we would call social media today). In those days, people communicating with people through computers was viewed by many as a misuse of computing resources. Certainly, that was not what the ARPANet was designed for initially. Andy, however, liked operating in the edge spaces where others were uncomfortable. In fact, he always seemed most comfortable being uncomfortable.
Andy spoke with a twinkle in his eye. He was quick, witty, brilliant, and often irreverent. He was a deep-water engineer by training, but he loved writing and he read widely outside his field. He loved to talk politics and discuss philosophy. He was both deeply quantitative and engagingly qualitative. He wrote the first story-like narrative scenario done at Institute for the Future. It was the tale of a priest immersed in the future of biology--what we'd now call biotech--and it documented his travels through this future landscape.
Andy was also a methodological risk taker. In 1977, he organized a workshop that brought together many of the sometimes strident actors with an interest in the future of gun control, from the NRA and hunting organizations to environmentalists and gun control advocates. His goal was to use the future as a "safe place" for highly charged discussions, and he ran the workshop as a conflict resolution lab. Each side had to play the role of the other in order to gain a deeper understanding of, and hopefully empathy for, the other.
Andy grew up in the telecom industry, and much of his work focused on the future of the telephone industry and communications policy. But he was always pushing at the edges of whatever he took on, from probabilistic forecasting to energy policy. He poked, he prodded, he questioned, and he spun out provocative scenarios.
In his office, he had books and papers piled everywhere and a prominent sign that read: "A CLEAN DESK IS THE SIGN OF A EMPTY MIND." He was also an avid builder of model fighter planes and had built maybe 25 of them, many of which hung from his office ceiling.
Andy Lipinski was someone who sparkled with life. He brought so much to Institute for the Future, our clients, and the outside world. We will all miss him very much.
-- Bob Johansen
A funeral mass will be held on Friday, January 18, 2013, at 11:00 am at St. William Catholic Church in Los Altos. Burial will follow at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Menlo Park.