II. Five Practitioner Groups
Five primary foresight practitioner groups are featured here. See Chapter 3 (Career Options) for more on each type. They are:
- Consultants. After the creative (creator-producer), the consultant is usually the second most commonly socially recognized role of the foresight professional. These individuals see themselves primarily as foresight service providers. They serve one or more clients, typically in a non-employee relationship, either formally or informally.
- Academics (Scholar-Educators). The scholar-educator helps ground and grow our profession. These individuals see themselves primarily as foresight students, investigators, or teachers. Their primary drives are to learn, investigate, describe, analyze, test and ground their knowledge, and to help others to do the same.
- Creatives (Creator-Producers). This role seems to be the most common social conception of the foresight professional: someone individually driven to find, curate, imagine, describe, or create “new things that could be.” Leaders who get most of their income from public speaking, writing creatively about the future, curating ideas, or designing new things are typically members of this group.
- Entrepreneurs. The entrepreneur (for-profit and nonprofit) is another major and yet commonly underappreciated role for the creative foresight professional. These individuals seek to “build the future” by leading an enterprise to commercial success in useful new projects, products and services. This category of course includes nonprofit leaders or social entrepreneurs.
- Organizational Foresight Leaders. Individuals who lead (have social influence) or manage within an organization and who also must look to and analyze the future for that organization are our largest common class of foresight professional. We could usefully split this class into business, institutional, and governance foresight leaders, but that level of detail will be avoided at this time. Members of the other four classes who also lead or manage in their organizations are all potential members of this fifth class. Working to shape the preferred future of an organization, or of a department, group, or team within an organization, and taking a leadership role to do so, either explicit or implicit, is of primary importance to organizational foresight leaders.