The World Futures Society

A highly international organization with over 30,000 members. Its membership reads like a "who's who" of influential people including names such as Robert McNamara, Irving Shapiro and John Gardner on its board. Over 1000 representatives from forty countries attended the July 18-21, 1998 conference in Chicago. Jonathan Milton and Michael Sales are both members of the WFS. We attended the Conference as an offshoot of New Context's strategically focused FutureTense™ Scenario Construction services.

There were over 100 different seminars and workshops offered at the Conference. We focused on a few, including:

1.A full day program on Spotting and Tracking Trends that lead to changes in public policy taught by Graham Molitor, an officer of the WFS and an internationally renown forecaster. Once exposed to Molitor's twenty-two step model, you'll never read the newspaper in the same way again. This is a truly comprehensive way to understand how any subject matter moves from being an idea into something which is taken for granted by a society.

2.An extensive workshop in "Spiral Dynamics" which presented a fascinating way of looking at interpersonal, intergroup and intercultural communications through the theories of Professor Clare Graves. Graves found that there are seven very different types of "living conditions" faced by people ranging from raw survival to leisurely contemplation. Within each of these conditions there are people with representing the full spectrum of intellectual ability. According to this theory, communication between people with very different cognitive/emotional foundations is very difficult even if they have similar intellectual abilities. Change and learning are based upon understanding the conditions and constraints of any communication across realities. Easy-to-use instrumentation facilitates the understanding of this way of thinking.

3.Howard Didsbury's "Introduction to the Study of the The Future" that provided an overview of futures studies.

4.Thomas Frey, a former IBM engineer with over 270 awards and founder of the daVinci Institute, led off a discussion
of the internet revolution by showing participants how it is now possible to set up your own country on the Web and compete for citizens.

5.Thomas Friedman, international attorney, Lt. General Patrick Hughes, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and J. ÿrstr¯m M¯ller, Danish Ambassador to Singapore all spoke of grave threats to the international economic system.

6.Two presentations explored virtual teaming and the delivery of consulting services over the Internet.

7.Walter Kistler, founder of Kistler Aerospace, Jerome Glenn of the United Nations University and Alan Ladwig, "Chief Wagon Master" at NASA discussed The Future of Space Exploration and its economic and social implications.

8.The TRIZ software approach which uses creativity principles distilled from 200,000 patents to assess the robustness of product innovation strategies and solve technology problems.

9.Joe Coates, noted futurist, engaged a large audience in a conversation about the long term future of humanity.