If you are looking to hire a professional futurist for a consulting gig or a keynote speech, what should you look for?
One thing you might want to look for is one with a little unconfidence.
That’s right, unconfidence. I am currently reading Dan Gardner’s excellent new book, Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Are Next to Worthless, And You Can Do Better and he notes that one of the many paradoxes of futurism is that “the experts who were more accurate than others tended to be much less confident that they were right.”
The problem, of course, is that when people are hiring a futurist, what do they look for? My guess is that one of the main characteristics is confidence. (After all, who wants to hire someone who is unsure of himself?)
The other, of course, is accuracy or a proven track record.
The two, unfortunately, don’t go hand-in-hand. Therefore, if you are looking for a futurist my advice is this: Look for one who doesn’t proclaim to be able to predict the future; look for one who appreciates uncertainty and ambiguity; and for someone who is humble about his or her forecasts.
Interested in other futurist-related thoughts? Check out these old posts: