Several months ago blog reader Sean Ness of the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto invited me to one of their events. I couldn’t make it, but Sean encouraged me to stop in one of these days to learn more about their work. In-between meetings last week I spent an hour at the Institute for the Future and came away really impressed. In their own words…
The Institute for the Future (IFTF) is an independent nonprofit research group. We work with organizations of all kinds to help them make better, more informed decisions about the future. We provide the foresight to create insights that lead to action.
After giving me a tour of the facility, we sat down and Sean described some of the big trends they see developing over the next decade. Some of the themes that most intrigue me:
- A "group economy" threads together past visions of emergence, new kinds of capital, collective action, grassroots economics, etc.
- "Lightweight infrastructure" builds grassrootes economies into physical structures.
- "Sensemaking" is about the importance of focal points and maps in an ever-less-bounded world. Physical context increases in importance.
After a good chat Sean handed me seven thick research books on everything from "The Future of Global E-Education" to "Cooperation in Business in the 21st Century." When I got home to my computer I had three emails from Sean — links to blogs that may interest me, additional reports not released to the public, and an introduction to someone I could find interesting.
That’s what I call professionalism! IFTF keeps a low profile since it does much of its work on a confidential basis with private sector clients, but it’s an organization worth keeping tabs on if you — like me — are trying to figure out what trends are going to converge in the future to shape the world we live in.