As someone who studies the future you might be surprised to hear me tell you: ‘the future’ does not exist.
The future is not fixed or singular, but a space of potential. There are many potential futures that extend out from the present moment. Some are probable, some plausible, some preposterous. This is good news.
It means that the ‘projected future’ – the business as usual, no surprises, just like today but-only-more-so story – doesn’t have the be the future we find ourselves in.
To demonstrate, let’s talk about putting a man on the moon.
If you travelled back in time to 1950 and said that humans had walked on the moon, you’d have a hard time convincing someone.
It would be unthinkable, fanciful, nothing but science fiction.
I suppose it’s possible…
In 1959, Soviet crafts managed the first escape from Earth’s gravity, the first crash impact into the surface of the moon, and the first photo ever taken of the dark side of the moon.
These early wins are a long way from manned flights, but putting a person on the moon starts to feel possible.
I could see that happening
“I believe that this Nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth.” – JFK, 1961
JFK publicly commits to this bold future vision, and commits the funding, expertise, and resources required to bring it into being. Putting a man on the moon becomes plausible as gains credibility.
When Johnson becomes president in 1963, he continues to defend this expensive program despite calls for funding to be redirected to other present-day priorities.
This mission is bigger than JFK. It has ongoing stewardship. Now it’s just a matter of time.
The projected future
July 16, 1969. Apollo 11 launches. By our projections, we’ll have a man on the moon in 4 days time.
Bending the projected future is not easy, and not for the feint of heart. It takes courage, conviction, a compelling vision, and the ability to engage and mobilise others to act in service of that future.
Another future is possible.