By Saad and Shaw
Life is changing faster than ever. Sometimes it feels as if the ways we have planned for the future just aren’t working. For many of us, we live in the moment, and engage in future planning every now and then; usually when life forces us to. But what if we had a new way to engage with the here-and-now and the future simultaneously.
We interviewed nationally recognized Philanthropic Futurist Trista Harris in 2018 on just this topic in a column titled Can we see into the future? Different from the classic fortune-teller, a futurist, according to Harris, is someone who uses “trends to determine what is possible, probable, and preferable in the future. Though there is not one predetermined future, there are signals of what is coming. Futurists develop strategies based on those signals instead of just creating a ‘better version’ of what exists today.” She also puts it plainly, “The future isn’t something that happens to you, it is something that you create with the decisions that you make today.”
Harris shares her thoughts on how each of us can use futurism as we build – or work within – organizations and institutions. Her book, “Future Good: How to use Futurism to save the World” is a foundational piece for a new “studio” that she is bringing to the world. Being both a student and a teacher of futurism, Harris has announced a “beta cohort” for her new FutureGood Studio. The studio learning method combines video lessons with intermittent virtual meetings to help you learn to manage volatility and how predict and shape the future. Topics covered through this studio range from “Welcome to Futurism” to “Loving the Problem” to “From Here to There” concluding with “Now Create the Future.”
Having personally met and worked with Harris, we know she is all about “facing reality” but her lens is the positive: she is not a downer. She focuses on seeing both “what is” and “what can be” and harnessing supposedly diametric or conflicting points of view to create a pathway towards future good. We asked her about the “why” behind her new studio, and she spilled the beans. “I often joke with clients that I’m probably the only philanthropic futurist they know. But I don’t just want to create a few more philanthropic futurists—I want to create thousands of them. I “discovered” futurism during the recession almost 15 years ago. When I was the Executive Director for the Headwaters Foundation for Justice, I watched organizations drowning in the recession—but by deploying futurism, we achieved some of the greatest victories our clients had seen in 30 years. I know we aren’t at the mercy of the future: WE shape the future. I want to get that word out to as many people as possible. Building an online learning environment felt like the greatest way to achieve that.” Harris’ FutureGood Studio is designed to be transformative and yet highly time-efficient – the studio experience itself is futuristic!