When I tell the story of how I became a futurist, people are often surprised to learn that my training as an artist was just as helpful as the years I spent working in change, improvement and innovation.

You wouldn’t expect to find much overlap between a Diploma of Fine Art and a Masters of Strategic Foresight. But look closer and you’ll discover some curious similarities between learning to make art and developing foresight capabilities.

Ways of seeing

Both practices engage in double loop learning. You are becoming aware of the ways you habitually make sense of what you see, and practice seeing the same situation from multiple perspectives.

Working with attention

Action follows attention. In art, you learn to focus your attention on your subject to truly see what’s in front of you. In foresight, you learn to broaden your attention, finding the edge of what we pay attention to and opening blind spots.

Pattern recognition

Observing and creating patterns is a staple of the visual arts. It’s also a core method for understanding the past and the emerging future.

Myth and metaphor

Artists and futurists alike use myth and metaphor to convey abstract ideas.

My early training in the arts gave me a practical experience of learning to work with abstract concepts, and flattened the learning curve when I moved into foresight.

Next time you’re looking to develop your foresight capabilities, consider taking a drawing class. It will be more helpful than you realise.