Future Friday: One Big Reason Predictions are Important

by Michael Haberman on August 22, 2014 · 0 comments


Situational Futuring can be a valuable tool to understanding the present.

Situational Futuring can be a valuable tool to understanding the present.

“Imagine a future.” To me those are important words for every HR professional to keep in mind. That process can help you anticipate, plan and create a better world for yourself and your company. But how do you do that? Let me explain.

Situational Futuring

Futurist Thomas Frey wrote an interesting essay on a tool he calls “situational futuring”. This is a tool, or a way of thinking, that can be used “look ahead.” He describes situational futuring as “begin(ning) with a central idea, which grows into a series of rippling thoughts, issues, and questions expanding in every direction.” Rather than thinking of the future by investigation a megatrend and seeing how that would eventually impact your business, situational futuring starts with a small idea and builds, perhaps even to the point of being much larger.

He describes this process like this:

The process begins with an initial scenario and asking some of the standard who-what-when-where-how-and-why questions. Probing deeper, questions formulated around things like timing, monetary implications, disruptive effects, symbiotic partners, who-wins-who-loses, wild cards, policy changes, and strange bedfellows will help expand your thinking even further.

It works well as a brainstorming tool but can be an individual exercise as well.

An example

Frey had a number of examples, 44 of them in fact, which you can read here. He had one that I thought was relevant to human resources. He called it Quantified Self Skills Analysis and described it thus:

As employers lose confidence in traditional transcripts and college degrees as a predictor of success, they will turn towards more sophisticated attribute-matching systems for sorting through the ultra-granular quantifiable-self and finding the closest fit. People who don’t make the shortlist for a job opening will be given an auto-generated overview of their skill deficiencies and ways to improve upon them.

I thought about this further and applied this to the recruiting process. Right now we work hard to attract candidates, we review resumes and do interviews to find the “right” candidates. What if there was a process to avoid that? What if there was an assessment you could use that would tell if a candidate was the proper fit for both the company and a job category? You could administer this assessment to any candidate and make a determination if they were a “fit” and then train to a particular skill set. Would this offset the waste in the recruitment process?

The value in this process

Who really knows whether my situational futuring above would work or not? My point was not to necessarily come up with a viable idea; rather it was to get you to think about your process. That is the value to you. This exercise gets you started on thinking about what could be and how it is different from what is done today. You may create crazy ideas or scenarios and none may ever come to fruition, but you have at least done the thinking and as a result will be more open to things or ideas that may present themselves in the future.

Action step

To get you started on this process I would suggest you read Frey’s 44 ideas. Then lean back put your feet up and start thinking about how you might change recruiting if you had a different method, a different tool, a different candidate pool, a different whatever. How might your world look differently?

To answer the question raised by the title, the value of predictions is not that they are right or wrong; the value is that they got you to think about present differently and opened you up to a different and possible future.


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