The Soothsayer

Why Every Business Needs A Futurist

Abhishek Kothari
7 min readAug 29, 2018


Jonathan Hammond on

It was like she had been playing ‘nhodo’ with her life, foolishly trying to outsmart an imaginary playmate named Fate.” ― Panashe Chigumadzi, Sweet Medicine

Fate is impossible to predict. Then again, if you believe in fate, you don’t even want to predict. You just want to let things play out in due course. But, if you are a businessman, you don’t want to include the word fate in your lexicon. That is the precise reason why every business needs a futurist. Bear in mind, I did not use the term strategist. This article talks about the essential characteristics of a futurist and makes a case for every business to have one.

Three weeks ago, I had an interesting conversation with a colleague who works at a niche consulting firm. She described the firms growth strategy and how the firm had quadrupled in headcount. Finally, she got down to explaining what her role was. As she was laying out all the things she does on a daily basis, she mentioned that she had a certificate in Futurism. I was completely astounded because I didn’t even know you could get a certificate for being a futurist. I thought it was more a labor of love.

However, today more so than ever, every business needs a futurist who focuses on broad mega trends and how they will shape the world of the future. The futurist isn’t necessarily a formal position. A CEO has to be a futurist. Of course, having a formal futurist to advice the CEO and liberate him from an onerous burden would help. The board of directors of a company could have a futurist.

At the end, Futurism is a mindset that is essential to deal with volatility. In the words of former IBM CEO Lou Gerstner “elephants can dance” but they need a choreographer. That choreographer is the futurist.

Zero Sum Games

The biggest asset of a futurist is to look at macro level mega trends and see it’s downstream implications on business. I understand these are a mouthful of words which are easier said than explained. Let’s take an example:

If you have ever heard Daniel Schmactenberger , one of the founders of the Neurohacker collective talk about the…



Abhishek Kothari

Futurist@The Intersection of Finance, Tech & Humanity. Stories of a Global Language: “Money”. Contributor @ Startup Grind, HackerNoon, HBR