Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Madfest Insights: John Vary, Futurologist at John Lewis & Partners discusses ‘designing a preferred future’

John Vary took the Hexagon stage audience at Madfest through the important elements of his role as a Futurologist at the John Lewis Partnership and shared how marketers can apply these elements to their businesses.

One of the first pieces of advice that Vary shared was the importance of investing in the absence of fear. If brainstorming sessions begin with a fear mindset then idea generation is limited and very minimal development is possible. Imagination is also an important factor in mindset; marketers need to be able to transport teams away from the here and now by creating artifacts that challenge what the future can be, therefore letting people discover what their future could be. As Vary said, “my role is not about prediction, it’s about helping people to design their preferred future”.

Vary also discussed the importance of analysing emerging weak signals (something that is often ignored or dismissed as unquantifiable) and using them to forecast potential future developments. Additionally, by externalising relationships and connecting with more people outside the business, you can influence others into thinking differently. It is integral to get your team to consider future needs within a current context.

So, how do we look to the future? By investing in future skills. Neurodiversity in leadership positions to promote different ways of thinking, crafting and making will be a catalyst for playful interaction, divergent thinking will unlock future opportunities and storytelling will enable diverse communities to connect people. And for Vary people are integral. “whatever I do in my role the most important factor is people” he says, “which is why we always focus on needs”.

NDA is the official media partner of MAD//Fest 2023

Madfest, News

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