August 2023
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Back to the Future

Monday, July 31, 2023

Facing Our Futures: How Foresight, Futures Design and Strategy Creates Prosperity and Growth
By Nikolas Badminton
Bloomsbury Business, 256 pp., $35

"I'm a dreamer, futurist, a foresight practitioner, and a hope engineer—another term I interlace with futurist," writes Badminton, whose book attempts to outline general principles to help business leaders grasp not only probable futures but seemingly impossible ones. Badminton is not as worried about a question like "Where do you see yourself in five years?" He cares about what the future might hold in the next 50, 75, or even 100 years.


It's a tantalizing thought, but Badminton stumbles while trying to equip readers to formulate their own compelling ideas.

Having not read a book on this topic before, I was intrigued by the foundational principles that inform the discipline of futurism. "Foresight," writes Badminton, "is the practice of how we come together to think critically about our world and how our futures may play out." As interesting an academic exercise as that may be, Badminton doesn't do enough to confirm the value of foresight.

Put simply, many who have attempted to predict the future have failed time and again. With so much noise and data for people to parse and evaluate, can they truly implement the practice of foresight to gain insight into the future beyond the next five or maybe 10 years? Badminton is convinced individuals can. I remain skeptical.


Regardless of the accuracy of foresight and futures design, the basic principle is sound. As talent development professionals, we need to stay aware and alert to changing landscapes in the field; we also need to look over the horizon and attempt to see what's coming. Badminton's Positive-Dystopian Futures Framework could be helpful for organizational leaders to appreciate the innumerable possibilities embedded in the future by preparing them to adapt, change, and even design a future we want rather than one we're forced to inherit.

Facing Our Futures could have used a more critical editorial eye because the book often feels unnecessarily repetitive and too ideological. The book never quite makes the case the author wants; however, its fundamental principles resonated with me. Predictive powers are limited, but there is value to be found here. The text is not a crystal ball, but it may encourage more professionals to look a little closer at that mysterious horizon we call the future.

About the Author

Working for CVS Health, Adam C. Zern has held a variety of roles—from Patient Care Specialist, Business Analyst, Project Manager, and Manager of Learning Services—and is currently a Sr. Manager of Organizational Effectiveness and Talent Development. He has also worked as an Online Instructor and Teaching Group Leader in higher education. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Organizational Communication and a Master of Education degree in Applied Learning & Instruction. Adam has been married to his wife Sarah for 15 years and has four daughters—Emma, Sadie, Scout, and Ever Jane. He loves reading and has a goal of reading 1,000 books in his lifetime.

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