- Leah Zaidi
- Frameworks & Tools
- Views on Facing the Future World
- Asking Questions
- Describe Your Work
- Telling Difficult Stories
- Overcoming Dominant Voices
- Immediate Actions People Can Take
Podcast: Future Pod
- She started as a marketer, then got into writing science fiction, and loved world-building within her stories.
- Eventually, she discovered two sci-fi writers (Madeline Ashby and Karl Schroeder ) had taken the Strategic Foresight course at OCADU. If it was good enough for them, it was good enough for her.
- She enjoys the challenge and is good at communicating complex changes to people outside the field of foresight. Foresight is different from marketing in that you are trying to convey complexity to take action vs. simplifying to get people to buy something.
- She also enjoys thinking about and creating frameworks for world-building.
- She loves the combination of creativity and critical thinking essential to thinking about the future and building better worlds.
Frameworks & Tools
- Leah uses the specific tools, Signals, Futures Wheel, and Scenario Building.
- She also uses tools she has built herself.
- World Building - Sometimes, people build scenarios without a larger context of what is happening in the world. Build to overcome this limitation. Requests you consider seven major forces when evaluating a new scenario or technology.
- Anti-Archetypes - Developed as a counter to typical archetypes that introduce problems and failures in a system. These are the instances where there are successes that build upon each other.
- MinSpec - MinSpec is about considering the three primary forces that influence the world, or she doesn’t believe the scenario is valid. They are:
- Environment (Climate Change)
- Democracy, Justice, Equality
- Artificial Intelligence
- Her goal is to get to the point where the scenario and world she has built are as comprehensive as possible. To this end, she typically uses several frameworks for every scenario to create a complete picture.
- The past of foresight was in building complicated scenarios, which we could do with simple models. Today, the need to create scenarios that are complex and thus require stacking of frameworks.
Views on Facing the Future World
- Climate Change
- There’s a lack of understanding of how climate change will affect the future, which is an issue with communicating the complexity of the challenges ahead of us.
- Climate change will lead to civil unrest and destabilization of democracy. Heat drives people to violence.
- There’s a lot of nuance in communicating about the metaverse.
- One of the things people don’t always talk about is how the metaverse will calm people or provide them with an escape from the heat and anxiety of the real world.
- Currently, the metaverse scenarios can fight climate change.
- Singapore is running simulations to determine the optimal position for solar panels.
- What does democracy look light in light of disinformation campaigns?
- It’s easier to track written words online, but what about deep fake videos and images? What about simulations within the metaverse?
- More people working and thinking about the future means there will be more instances for creative solutions.
- Leah remains hopeful but has received a lot of flack for not being as positive as other practitioners in the foresight space.
- She believes all the solutions are available now. They need space to grow and spread. But there are issues with that because of entrenched systems of power. (predatory delay)
- She believes answers and questions intertwine with each other.
- Ask a different question or reframe it; you may have a different answer.
- Be deliberate about the questions you ask.
Describe Your Work
- The work varies, but she does build scenarios and worlds based on data with references. Having qualitative data to back up her scenarios is vital to her.
- The work is compiling and building evidence-backed stories and scenarios.
Telling Difficult Stories
- It is frustrating and challenging.
- One of the main frustrations of a futurist is the inability to effect change. You tell stories to people in power but it’s up to them to effect the change.
- Another is proving the efficacy of the work and people ignoring your scenarios. Then coming back and saying I told you so without telling them I told you so.
- Attempting to convey she is the right person to work on a problem or scenario. But, there are times when she is not the right person.
- The field is too involved with possibilities and has given all options equal weight. There’s a fear in taking a stance. There are some things, like Climate Change, where the ship has sailed, and we need to take a stance: “This is going to influence what happens.”
- Fear of acknowledging the likelihood of a Dystopia is a disservice to clients and a matter of moral integrity.
- There’s a difficulty in identifying leverage points, and part of doing that is data back your story, which includes a moral tale. Tell stories, not just facts!
Overcoming Dominant Voices
- People like Elon Musk and Donald Trump and their widespread influence are extremely hard to counteract.
- But disagreeing with them doesn’t mean you can completely discount them. It would be best if you acknowledged that other people may have differing points of view and may see your preferred future as a dystopia.
- The interesting question is how to convince them your preferred future is better.
- Working for change is the hardest part of foresight work.
Immediate Actions People Can Take
- Expand your toolkit and break the habits of what you are doing.
- You can return to the fundamentals of foresight work to build upon them.
- Start thinking from First Principles and take a stance on things already foregone.