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Is Futurism the Next Step for Subject Matter Experts?

 Do you find yourself asking how to create agency for the future? 

Do you struggle with how to best utilize the wealth of knowledge that you have dedicated your career to building? 

Do you frequently ponder the future of your industry? Your career? Your business?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re not alone.

In fact, these questions are becoming more and more common in our chats with colleagues, students, and leaders alike, and are being asked of educators and thought leaders globally. Given the leveling of the virtual playing field over the last few years, the future of learning is in flux.  Not only has the playing field shifted, the players have too, so what does that mean for you, as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) and your legacy of knowledge?

The people you’ve worked with, the problems you’ve solved, and the success you have cultivated all have a place within your knowledge legacy. We talk a lot about cultivating that wealth of knowledge and how to share it effectively, but today we want you to consider the future of your subject matter - and how it ties into the future of learning. 

Futurism (a.k.a. Futures Studies, Futures Research) is interdisciplinary by nature. Everything we do plays a part in the outcome of our future. Having a futuristic frame of mind can be extremely helpful as we contemplate the inevitable questions surrounding what to do next in our careers.  How do you take the particular set of skills you have honed over your lifetime and direct those lived experiences to where they will have the most impact for a generation with completely different lived experiences and a completely different set of expectations for success? 


In a nutshell? It involves thinking about longevity and how to stay nimble and adaptive. 

Having a future-centric approach requires time and consideration…including answering key questions like: 

  • Does my work make a difference in how people think or plan for the future?
  • Does my work provoke long-term thinking when framed from the context of disruptive change?
  • Does my work help people develop the capacity to take complex positions on emerging issues?

Any professional can go through the exercise of asking these questions, and put together a series of subjective answers, but the key to really unlocking the progressive answers needed to invoke action, is to open up your mind to the possibilities of what could be. 

Stay Curious 

The passion and breadth of knowledge that has driven your career to this point is what will also fuel it through this next phase. Staying curious and looking for new ways to educate yourself and your audience, will not only keep you engaged, it will continue to encourage you to engage others. 

As a leader, a speaker, or facilitator - whatever your vocation may be - maintaining your curiosity and ability to look ahead is what will ultimately guide you to your next step. Curiosity is both disseminating what you’ve learned to those looking to learn from you while also continuing to seek answers and further educating yourself. In other words, future-oriented education requires a multi-pronged approach that utilizes insights from forward-thinking design, engineering, political-socio-cultural-economic and environmental studies to create a better future for us all.   

How does this apply to you as an SME?  

The landscape may be shifting, but in most cases, the foundational aspects of what you have mastered remains unchanged, so how can you take that knowledge and package it in a modernly consumable fashion?  That’s where we come in!

Anticipate Change & Evolution

Instead of settling into the ways that are and have been, why not summon the energy to solve tomorrow's problem before it's here! The act of knowledge sharing (both sending and receiving) has been proven to encourage innovation, especially when people of different backgrounds come together to design creative solutions. We know that change is constant, so when you’re operating in a state of fluidity; where you are prepared for disruption, you will be ready for anything that comes your way. 

Evolution is inevitable, how we manage (and anticipate)  it within our careers is what will dictate whether it helps or hinders our advancement.  And, even though change can feel unpredictable and uncomfortable, so can growth! In fact, the two are often intertwined.  So if you’re feeling like you’re not sure what’s next for you in your career or your business, but you’re not quite ready to close your current chapter, embracing this shift will be crucial.  

The key to creating this change in mindset is to actively engage in change management strategies. This can be challenging, but it essentially comes down to taking the passion that has driven your career and moving it toward design solutions that serve today’s learners best.  In many cases, this will be making the move to a virtual or digital classroom and/or tailoring your deliverables into smaller, more consumable packages that speak to the values and visions of your audience.  And remember: the ability to stay nimble and flexible goes a long way when you’re working toward a future-friendly format.

Empowering Yourself = Empowering Your Audience

Stagnancy and uncertainty are common concerns we hear from students.  Especially for those SMEs looking for ways to take their knowledge and make it relevant for upcoming generations.  It becomes more difficult to feel empowered in your career when you’re not working towards growth or what comes next.  

Change can be unsettling, especially towards the middle or end of a career, but it can also be the catalyst for re-engagement with your vocation. This engagement will often be accompanied by a sense of renewal and excitement, followed closely by intense pride and empowerment. Feeling empowered and confident in your content is the key to delivering with impact.  When you empower yourself, you indirectly empower your audience and that is when we reach the optimal learning zone.

Whether you are an educator, facilitator, or leader, embedding a future-centric point of view to your subject matter helps people to feel empowered when they contemplate their future and how they will impact change in that future. Encouraging empathetic futuristic frameworks is invaluable to us as a society, and allows for people to envision themselves, and their role, in shaping how we move forward. 

If you find yourself identifying with any of the content above and would like to discuss how you can take a future-centric approach to your life’s work, get in touch!  We have a series of workshops coming up that address just how to take your competencies and turn them into a future-friendly learning platform that will not only allow you to continue to grow and expand, but will also offer you a financial avenue to reshape your own future.


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