Seeing the future

I found a great quote from the book Meta Products (Rubino, et al) on what makes future thinkers and innovators good at innovating, and I just had to share it:

“We’ve studied the ideas of some of the well-known futurologists and innovators such as Juan Enriquez, Steward Brand and Katherine Fulton among many others, and we can identify a similarity between them that perhaps can explain why they are so good at looking at the future: they are genuinely interested in ‘change’ and in understanding why we change. They keep abreast of scientific discoveries and research challenges. They are very interested in linking the past to our present and intuitively reflecting on the future. There are characteristics in the attitudes of the great futurologists and innovators that cause them to be constantly dissatisfied with the ordinary, forcing them to look for controversy and confrontation wherever they are. It’s not that they are difficult people, it’s probably just their way of identifying the real motivators for doing what we do, and why we change. Futurologists and innovators also love serendipity — when you find something you weren’t expecting to find, or when you have the ability to link together apparently unrelated facts to create unexpected and valuable new information.”

In other words, the ability to “predict” the future is linked heavily to one’s ability to see and understand not only the past, but how our aspirations and motivations as humans cause us, and with us our society, to change. Change is the greatest opportunity for new innovations and new business models, and understanding the human aspirations behind change can help us see what is coming. So, a student of human aspiration is in a unique position to understand the evolution of human wants and needs.

The book is an incredibly interesting exploration in product design in the fully connected world: the so-called “Internet of Things”. How should we as designers and creators of products enable fully connected experiences through our products and services?

You can read the whole book online for free here, or you can buy the print version from Amazon here.

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