Tonight the conference began properly with the Opening Plenary. The key speakers were Edie Weiner, co-author of FutureThink: How to Think Clearly in a Time of Change, and Bill Drayon, a founder of Ashoka and former assistant administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Washington D.C.

I was particularly impressed by Edie who was, as one would expect, a very clear thinker. She challenged us to look at what we were not focusing on rather than what we were – which I thought was an interesting concept to think about in regard to New Zealand. I found myself writing down a list. Most of the people here are probably ‘scanning’ which means finding out what’s NEW.

The Americans really …love…New Zealanders. So many of the participants have been to New Zealand – which may reflect the inquiring nature of the futurists and/or the jobs they do. I have already met government officials in the military, agriculture and education – so there is quite a cross section. Participants are diverse, coming from countries all over the world: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, The United Kingdom, The United States and Venezuela. New Zealand is represented by John Hinchcliff, Richard T Nelson and myself. John sat with me at the opening and has been looking out for me – directing me to the best courses etc. He has been a frequent attendee and a fellow ‘bookee’ – so we are having a great time. I have not yet met Richard, but naturally keen to meet who else has come all this way to attend. In retrospect I should have taken a photo of all the people behind me, as it would be the biggest conference that I have ever attended. Next time.

Earlier today I attended Scenario Planning: How to Build and Use Scenarios by Adam Gordon. Adam is the director of Future Studio in Cardiff. He had a different perspective from Associate Professor Peter Bishop. For me the take away of today was that ‘future thinking’ (or futures) is still a very ‘young’ profession and there are lots of variations and nuances out there.

I am looking forward tomorrow, where hopefully what I have learnt over the last two days helps me absorb all the ‘future thinking’… provided my head stops spinning from the jet lag.

Text and photo by Wendy McGuinness