Seeing the Future in the Present: Learning to Think Three Steps Ahead

Foreseeing the future is a power typically associated with fairy tales or mythology. In reality, it’s a learnable skill with practical benefits for business and personal decision-making. By understanding the dynamics of change, examining our assumptions about how the world works, and improving our capacity for critical foresight, we can better identify emerging opportunities or competitive threats before they impact our businesses. We can also see new possibilities and uncover points of intervention, leading toward better outcomes for our customers, our employees, or our planet. In addition, learning to anticipate potential futures enhances our openness, our systems thinking skills, even our creativity. Rather than being a vague or unknown variable, the future emerges from patterns observable in the present, and this course teaches students to identify and accurately interpret those patterns. Through lectures, readings, and exercises, we will explore the practice of futures thinking, how it is used by businesses and organizations, and why disruptive innovations like blockchain, artificial intelligence, and the metaverse are likely to change the world. Students will gain an appreciation for the role future studies plays in strategic planning, product development, risk analysis, and more.

Christopher Ireland
Adjunct Professor, Design, California College of the Arts; Co-Founder, Cheskin

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Online, instructor-led
Feb 5 - Mar 8, 2024
Stanford Continuing Studies