Researching the future: oxymoron or possibility?

Wendy Gordon, The Fourth Room, argues the need for a new type of research, 'pro-search', that is forward looking and interdisciplinary

Wendy Gordon

This article argues that research cannot predict the future. Research, as we know it today, is predicated on the past. There are structural factors that maintain this: there are also models of thinking about methodologies and techniques which ensure that strategic recommendations based on research findings are more effective in shaping the present than they are in preparing for the opportunities and threats of the future. A new kind of research – 'pro-search' – is evolving to meet the needs of those brands and organisations that take innovation seriously.

Signs of the times

As we come closer to crossing the psychological dateline of the millennium, we are trying, more so than in any other period in our individual histories, to understand what the future has in store for us. As humans living and planning our lives and as business professionals responsible for contributing to the long-term success of businesses and brands, each of us is attempting to make sense of the overwhelming amount of information to which we have access.