Future That Has Already Happened

Drucker writes this in his book The Ecological Vission as the work of the Social Ecologist. This theme comes up regularly in many of his books including the latest, Management, Revised Edition. The idea is to focus on what has already happened and use that as a way to forecast the impact of those changes. I think this is such a powerful tool if well implemented.

If social ecology is a discipline, it not only has its own subject matter. It also has its own work-atleast for me. But it is easier to say what is work is not than to be specific about what it consists of.

I am often called a “futurist”. But if there is one thing I am not-one thing a social ecologis must not be-it is a “futurist”. IN the first place it is futile to try to foresee the future. This is not given to mortal man. And the idea that ignorance and uncertainity become vision by being put into a computer is not a particularly intelligent one. One problem is that the things the most brilliant and most successful predictor never predicts are always the things that are more important than the things he does predict. Futurists, always measure their batting average by how many things that they have preducted came true. They never count how many of the important things that came true they did not predict.

A good example is the most successful futurist in recorded history, the Frech science fiction write Jules Verne (1828-1905). Most of the technologies he predicted have come true. But he-probably quite unconsciously-assumed that society and econmy would remain what they were around 1870-and the changes in society and economy have, of course, been atleast as important as the new inventions.

But also, and more important, the work of the social ecologist is to identify the changes that have already happened. The important challenge in society, economy, politics is to exploit the changes that have already occurred and to use them as opportunities. The important thing is to identify the “Future That Has Already Happenned” – the tentative title of another book which I did not write, a book which was intended to develop the methodlogy for perceiving and analyzing these changes which had happened-and irreversibly so-but which had not yet had an impact, and were indeed not yet generally seen.


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