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02. Studying the Future

Deciphering Tomorrow: How MLK's 'I Have a Dream' Speech Epitomizes Futuristic Thinking

Martin Luther King "I have a dream"
Martin Luther King "I have a dream"

Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech presented a clear vision of the future, catalyzing profound social transformation. This speech seamlessly integrated the subtle indicators he noticed from the rising civil rights movement, the social and political trends he discerned, and, most crucially, the future he envisioned. The goal of studying the future is to develop insightful frameworks that capture its essence. Scenarios serve as models, forecasting potential futures by vigilantly monitoring weak signals, facts, and data, and interpreting economic, social, or technological trends. King's speech is a powerful example of how identifying signals, understanding trends, and creating scenarios can propel societal change. This speech was more than just a call for equality; it was a roadmap for a future where racial justice was not a dream but a reality.

Weak signals. The clues.

The so-called weak signals are like subtle signs and symbols that hint at future trends or possibilities. They refer to data, facts, or ideas, which, while not evident, can have deep meaning.

There are multiple techniques for tracking weak signals, but in general, constant vigilance is required, discerning what is relevant from what is not, and an open mind to explore the strange and unexpected.

Trends. Drivers of change.

The drivers or catalysts of change are all the trends that stimulate or attract a system toward a certain outcome. In various technological innovations, demographic processes, or changes in user behavior, patterns can be identified that indicate the directions in which things are moving.

Synthesizing and understanding the persistent over time, trends that drive change allow us to anticipate and plan for alternative futures.

Scenarios. Future models.

Conceptual frameworks allow us to organize and interpret information about the future based on weak signals ordered into change trends. Scenarios and SWOT analyses are some of the techniques used to model future frameworks.

Future frameworks are used for strategic planning, to manage decision-making, or to identify risks and opportunities.

Studying the Future: Sources and Further Readings

King Jr, M. L. (1963). ‘I Have a Dream,’ Address delivered at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. King Papers. The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute, 28.

Bell, W. (2011). Foundations of futures studies: human science for a new era: values, objectivity, and the good society (Vol. 2). Transaction Publishers.

Josep Monguet Fierro

Professor at the UPC. Founder of SmartDelphi, Onsanity, and Innex Experience in digital healthcare innovation. Research coordinator of “Master Barcelona Design” UPC-UB.



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