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Define it. Creating your Institute for the Future

Define it? How can you get there if you don’t know where you’re going?
On this page you'll find answers to these questions:

"What is the history of the future in your organization?"
"What are some ways that members of your organization may react to your definition?"

Define it?

Your first step toward creating a futures institute is to get a solid grasp on just what you want it to be. What follows are some ideas that will direct your thinking from your “history of the future” to clarifying a vision.  Let’s “go back to the future!”

Your future has a history: What is yours?
Every organization has a culture, a way of living that is based on an organizational history. In fact the history of your institution may contain some insights into the way the future is perceived, and, consequently how your future’s institute will emerge. Here’s what we mean.

Consider Anne Arundel Community College as a case study. Here are some benchmarks in AACC’s “history” of its conceptualization of the Future

IF @ AACC Time Line: “A History of the Future”

  • Late 1970’s  Courses on Sociology of the Future
  • Early 1980’s
  • Informal gathering of interested futurists
    “Arundel 2000”
  • Late 1980’s – present informing strategic planning with futures thinking
    Internal “Delphi”
  • Business plan 2002-3
  • May 2003
    Approved by college leadership
  • Fall 2003 Advisory team assembled
  • Fall 2004 Partnership with WFS
  • Spring 2005 “Futuresummer2005” Professional development
  • Fall 2005 Course products
  • Spring 2006 Team products and growing ownership
    Team Tactical plan
  • Summer-Fall 2006 First Major leadership change
    Second Team Tactical Plan

In short, thinking about the future has a long history at AACC.  It was sometimes under the surface, other times in the forefront, but always there… somewhere.  Modern planning strategies over the last ten years may have had a significant impact on the emergence of an environment that fosters and supports the future.

To what degree is the future tied to the past?

Unless you plan to erase the past and start over, your future vision is to some degree historically and culturally bound. You may need to address this early. How much cultural change will be necessary to make a futures institute a reality?  It would be “nice” if the emergence of such a structure “just made sense” as the next logical evolutionary “next step” in your institution. One expects some resistance, and practically so. Resources are needed and need to be committed. It would be great if this were the only problem, but of course, there are many more. There are at least six ways this can appear and these emerge as combinations of the degree to which “they get it,” and their level of support for the idea.

Don’t get it!

Get it!


“Deer in the headlights… but a smiling deer!”

“You’re dancing in the street!”

Don’t care

“A passive”

“Positive passive”



“Real opposition.”

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