by Kim Dority, Rocky Mountain Chapter, Business & Finance Division
The best way to predict the future is to create it. – Alan Kay
Almost anyone who’s talked with Cindy Romaine about the Future Ready initiative will end up wanting to take that energy and strategic thinking to the next level: what is one thing that each of us can or will do in the coming year to help our careers – and the profession – become future ready?
Thinking about that question, I’ve realized that for me and possibly for many others in the information profession, the answer lies not in preparing for what the future may look like, but rather in going on the offensive to create the future we want.
How to do that? Well, some things we know already:
- Technology will continuously change what we do and how we do it
- Companies – if not entire industries – that once seemed paragons of stability will contract if not disappear
- Other companies – and industries – will spring up to take their place
- For both information professionals and those we work with, there will be innumerable threats and opportunities and often they will be one and the same, depending on what we look for and how we frame them
- Information will continue to be a critical part of decision-making for individuals, companies, communities, and nations – but will undoubtedly be aggregated/formatted/delivered in ways barely imaginable today
Knowing these things, how might we go about creating our own futures? I tend to believe Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter was on to something when he said that entrepreneurism brings about a wave of creative destruction that, as it destroys established ways of doing things, simultaneously opens up new opportunities for innovation and fresh solutions. The challenge: being on the right side of that wave…in other words, creating the future we want to have.
In an attempt to stay ahead of that cresting wave, and thus create my own professional future, some of the things I’ll be doing are:
- Systematically monitoring the industries of existing clients to identify anomalies that may evolve into emerging growth trends – or contracting lines of business – so I can respond strategically
- Checking out all “innovation” award winners in various categories such as those offered by Fast Company, Mashable.com, and Inc. magazine with an eye toward unusual ideas that could signal growth opportunities (who knew the “casual learning” industry was now a $9 billion/year powerhouse?!)
- Practicing identifying the hidden opportunity in every perceived “threat” situation
- Continually rethinking how I can create and/or provide information that offers high-impact value, knowing that my ability to do so will determine my continued professional viability
Bottom line: perhaps our best approach to being Future Ready is to start actively creating the future we want today.
Kim Dority is the founder of Dority & Associates, Inc., an information consultancy with expertise in research, writing, editing, information process design, and publishing. Ms. Dority is on the advisory board of the University of Denver’s Library and Information Science graduate program, where she also teaches as adjunct faculty. She is the author of numerous articles and several books on information, Rethinking Information Work (Libraries Unlimited, 2006).