Futurist conversation: Ross Dawson and Gerd Leonhard on the role of a futurist

Continuing our series of conversations with Gerd Leonhard of The Futures Agency, and myself, here is the one we kicked off with: what is the role of a futurist?

Here are a few of the topics we discuss:

* A key role of futurists is to develop and share foresights
* Someone who helps people think about the future to make better decisions today
* To examine and distinguish between trends and uncertainties in order to work out the best path forward
* Clients are interested in having help thinking about things they don’t have time to think about
* It is not a luxury but a necessity to think about the future, but it is useful to get help doing that from people who spend all their time doing that
* Going beyond the obvious is a special skill, but it is also about drawing out the implications of the obvious
* Stepping outside of beliefs and orthodoxies can be more easily done from outside organizations
* While some companies have resident futurists it is highly valuable to bring in people who can be disrespectful and challenge internal thinking
* Being a ‘provocateur’ means provoking not just thoughts but sometimes emotions