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We are a company of practicing futurists, living in the future
Founded at the end of 1996, The Futures Lab Inc., is an international foresight consultancy with its main offices in the USA and UAE and a network of subsidiaries and partners in UK, Brazil, Chile, China, India and Mexico, plus an extensive global network of experts from business, universities, the arts, government institutions and the street.
Vive le difference, 2024?
Vive le difference, 2024?
More than any previously, the year 2023 was the year of awards for The Futures Lab, Inc. and its futurists. We received a total of six from a variety of sources including government, city and educational institutions, all for the company’s contribution to the future of a specific field, city development, technological transformation or vision for a sustainable future society.

Consequently, I felt that it was time to reflect on why now and why our celebrated approach to futures studies is still relevant in a profession that continues to doubt and fall over itself. Without question, revamping our foresight framework, keeping the approach fresh, yet comprehensive, by adding unique proprietary tools and techniques, as well technology, where appropriate, and delivering the unexpected, actionable solutions and a highly inseparable professional team are all part of the mix.

Its nearly 30 years since the establishment of The Futures Lab, Inc. (TFL) as a futures consultancy in Belgium and London in 1996. Its birth was afforded by a solid bonus and shares from my previous employer, the VF Corporation, then the largest clothing company in the world, where I had headed up global strategy outside of the US market.

Without question, the first 4 years brought us an amazing portfolio of clients, both through our direct endeavors and off the back of our partners, at Grey Brand Futures, as well as a swift reskilling in futures studies having been more competent as long-term strategists and innovation experts. That education process which never ends of course, owes much to my friends and colleagues at the University of Houston and their most creative students provided courtesy of Dr Peter Bishop as well as other leading experts in our field like Jim Dator, Richard Slaughter, Wendy Schultz and Oliver Markley.

In 2000, I moved the headquarters to Austin Texas, in the USA, having seen a huge growth in our US business, and in 2003, I was one of the original founders of the Association of Professional Futurists (APF) , with an enthusiastic, well-versed group of colleagues who wanted to professionalize the field. Consequently, I spent 6 years on the board of the APF and was already active in the World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF) .

The first decade of TFL saw the company grow incredibly, adding specialist staff and representative offices around the globe to deal with truly international projects and clients., mainly global corporations. (www.futures-lab.com/clients). In the meantime, together with colleagues, especially Wayne Pethrick and later Gary Golden and others, we upgraded our business structure, developed unique processes and approaches (covered in my books Future Frequencies and Future Flow, and built a large network of experts, not least off the back of my long-term connection with the Well and SXSW and he multiple Frontline Panels of experts we had undertaken for clients around the globe. We were flying and had acquired the epithets of “the tech futurists” and more often “the revolutionary futurists”, for taking the stand against being clustered with pop futurists, forecasters, commentators, and trend watchers. The majority of our work fell into the 3rd Horizon of futuring, always 15-year plus, and most projects took six months or more to complete, as they all require a deep, comprehensive futures studies approach, which included multiple experiential workshops, etc.

Despite the difficulties created by the 2008 recession and economic downturn, the company continued to push forward while downsizing it employee base (not helped by a couple of major corporate rogue clients) but growing its expert network. The next decade saw a major expansion of TFL’s activities beyond corporate into government and institutional futures, with a plethora of projects for the future of ministries, universities, cities and regions around the globe and a homing in on critical ecological structures and specialist skills. This decade saw a major growth in speaking, writing and the development of future-focused “living the future” events, both together with my colleagues at Plutopia Productions and SXSW and for corporations from Austin, USA to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and from London and the Netherlands to Brazil to Indonesia.

The third decade is epitomized by the addition of education and training. Creating futures courses, teaching at the University of Houston, Georgia State University, Dubai, the University of Agder in Norway and the Prince Bin Fahd University in KSA as well as a number of future of universities and education projects as well as the development of multi-layer customized future studies training programs.

A critical point of difference throughout the three decades has been our ability to create and implement around 10 proprietary futures studies approaches, methods, techniques and tools, such as our globally recognized Think like a DJ technique, or Imagine in the Abstract or Remixing your imagination or Body: Data: Space, Amorphoscapes, or the Unreality Studio or our Directional opportunity mapping tools or a number of rhizomatic thinking and experiential and experimental futures approaches. Not surprisingly, we have been transitioned by our peers from revolutionary futurists to “the creative futurists”, which is apparently more palatable at the client level, even though our work still heavily focuses on discontinuity, weak signals, disruption, unique scenario building processes under the moniker of the Art of Awe underpinned by revolution rather than evolution from the present.

The third decade also saw the amazing contribution by my futurists colleague Helga Veigl to the technology-based approaches we now integrate, as well as a high level of design and visualization of our concepts, scenarios and project ideas to ensure we are not only up with the changing profile of the futures profession but moreover taking a lead in future studies which will soon be embodies in my new book Future Rhythms – a snapshot was recently presented at the 50th Anniversary WFSF Conference in Paris.

Now as we near the beginning of the fourth decade, TFL is playing mentor to many next gen futurists, while doing what we do best, implanting new ideas that magnify our ability to deal with unstructured knowledge in unknown worlds, in order to advance the field and finally give real credence to our profession unhindered by the revival of pop futurists and quack futurists of which seem to be germinating at rapid rates.
Research member of the Future Learning Lab at University of Agder
Founder member of the Association of Professional Futurists
Member of the World Futures Studies Federation