What We Do
Forecasts + Perspectives
Drivers + Outcomes
Forecasts provide a systems view of the future. They typically start from an explicit framework. The framework may be as simple as a set of drivers or forces converging to create the environment in which today’s decisions will play out. Or it may reflect a basic model of how a system is working.
For example, we often use frameworks that compare top-down vs. bottom-up innovations to understand where disruptions are most likely to occur in a system. Similarly, former IFTF president Ian Morrison developed the theory of The Second Curve. In this theory, incumbent leaders in a market or society will always be displaced by emergent innovations. The incumbent curve is always a declining S-curve while the emergent curve is an ascending S-curve. Understanding the trends on each curve helps us anticipate the particularly difficult-to-forecast transformational futures.
For many of IFTF’s forecasts, the underlying model comes from ethnographic interviews. For example, as a foundation for forecasting the future of aging, we developed a set of 10 boomer “action types” that described different modes of decision-making that could influence the way boomers will create their personal futures.
Because our global systems are complex, forecasts can never take into account all the variables. So we often look at such systems through a particular lens. For example, we might look at the future of the internet through the perspective of language, leading us to forecast a multilingual internet and its implications, not only for commerce, but also for human knowledge. We might look at the future of health through the lens of time, anticipating the impacts of the emerging science of chronobiology on health and health care practices. These perspectives combine to provide a multi-faceted view of the future.