Institute for the Future

While we think of the future as distant from the present, it’s actually hiding in plain sight on a street corner in Palo Alto at Institute for the Future.

Photos by Vance Jacobs
 
 
 

William Gibson says, “The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed.” It leaves the impression that the future stands out, as if marked with a DayGlo highlighter, easily recognizable from the ordinary present. The truth is, you could easily walk right by the future, as it lurks in broad daylight. The Institute for the Future is a prime example.

The Institute for the Future is an epicenter for research and understanding about the future. But the reason leaders from organizations all over the world make the trip to the corner of Emerson and Hamilton in downtown Palo Alto is for its training sessions and learning journeys. Less than 3 miles from Stanford d.school, IFTF is like CrossFit for improving an organization’s evolutionary muscles. The training strengthens leaders’ ability to integrate various tools — quantitative and qualitative — into foresight, insight, and action. The learning journeys leverage IFTF’s Silicon Valley location to bring participants face-to-face with the future.

RADAR was lucky enough to intersect with a group going through IFTF’s three-day Foresight Practitioner Training in early April. We got a fly-on-the-wall look as a group of 28 leaders pushed their imaginations to extremes, learning to generate — and act on — future-enabling insights.

 
 

Michael Nobleza of the Asian Pacific Fund can see new possibilities — and has a level of optimism and excitement common among participants during the three days.

 
 
 
 

Kathy Oneto, Principal at the Oneto Agency looks on as Nadese Murrey from Sanitarium Health & Wellbeing shares the work of their small group on converting foresight to insight.

 
 
 
 

“Change is hard. Looking forward is hard. Because people prefer to have certainty. People who come here, though, really have a stake in looking ahead. We give people the tools to do it ­— to analyze the world to come, and to speak about it, and to build the practice of foresight in their organizations.”

 

— Katherine Haynes Sanstad
  Program Director, Institute for the Future
 
 
 

IFTF workshops attract leaders from organizations like P&G, Lufthansa, and eBay, who want to strengthen their foresight and help their organizations create the future. Above: IFTF staff experts, like Nic Weidinger, help participants connect signals to see possible futures.

 
 
 
 

“I don’t remember a time when so many things were up for grabs. There’s probably not a domain where things will be the same in 10 to 20 years. It is scary because change is difficult. Oftentimes it’s very hard for existing institutions to change because of legacy systems, because it has worked for so long, because of mindset. It’s things from outside that force people to rethink how they view the world and what they’ve been doing.” 

— Marina Gorbis
  Executive Director of Institute for the Future
 
 

IFTF workshops attract leaders from organizations like P&G, Lufthansa, and eBay, who want to strengthen their foresight and help their organizations create the future. Above: IFTF staff experts, like Nic Weidinger, help participants connect signals to see possible futures.

 
 
 
More Stories