Archive: consultant

October 25th, 2010 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Business & Economy, New at | Comments Off

The Futures Agency

We are proud to share Gerd Leonard‘s announcement of his new virtual organization, The Futures Agency (TFA). TFA is based in Basel, Switzerland and is currently comprised of 15 amazing associates including myself. The Futures Agency offers a wide variety of services to clients worldwide.

The Futures Agency

TFA’s main expertise is think-tank events, workshops and executive team seminars. These sessions are 100% customized for each client and are generally geared towards companies that are looking to identify, fine-tune or co-create new business opportunities, manage radical change, deal with disruption, speed up innovation or otherwise face large and urgent strategic decisions that may require immediate action. These events are usually done with at least 2 or more Associates, and can be located wherever the client requires.

Gerd Leonard will serve as CEO and plans to grow this organization into one of the most amazing agencies on the planet, employing these 5 key principles:

    1. Knowledge grows when shared (therefore we share everything)
    2. Proudly find elsewhere (PFE)
    3. Do what you do best and link to the rest (Jeff Jarvis)
    4. Spend less time being important and more time being relevant
    5. The leaders of the future are connectors – not just directors

I have worked with Gerd for several years, most notably when we produced the video series Future Talks. I am pleased to join in this venture.

Einstein Quote

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June 15th, 2009 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Environment & Energy | 5 Comments

Energy and the future – space based power and cognitive dissonance

One of the most interesting and challenging bits of cognitive dissonance you can find these days is the following conflict: On one side are those who believe that a technological breakthrough related to energy is needed, and that massive investment in said technologies along with life-style changes are vital to the survival of modern civilization. On the other side are those who believe that such a technology breakthrough is unlikely, or that it is too late for such a massive investment in a world where money is scarce and fossil fuels are expensive. Moving beyond that mental frame are those who believe that it is in fact so late that a significant breakdown in industrial civilization is coming and that even a massive die-off of humans is inevitable. Beyond such a wrenching change survivors will emerge into a new-old society that is both fugal and agrarian.

The cognitive dissonance comes for those of us who believe that the available evidence points in both of these directions simultaneously, that both tracks are emerging at the same time, and that we are in a kind of race to see which reality predominates. For example, I believe that a very rapid investment in next energy technologies is critical, and by this I mean most available alternatives to fossil fuels – solar, wind, ocean, thorium-based nuclear, geothermal. I also think that a shift in societal values in industrial countries is critical, toward a more localized, more frugal, and generally smarter life style. At the same time, I accept that it may be too late for some kind of gradual re-set of our energy ways, and that significant dislocations are possible, even probable.

So, when I come across evidence for one view or the other, I tend to find good evidence persuasive, even when it is contradictory.

A great example of this dissonance came across my screens today. First, I read as I do each Monday the weekly blog of James Kunstler. As usual he illustrates the bankruptcy of the view that with a few minor adjustments we will continue what he calls the happy motoring lifestyle into the infinite future. His blog, by the way, is at a new address, and is well worth the time each Monday. Those who comment on his blog tend to exemplify the people who think we are long past the point of no return and that a collapse is coming.

On the other hand, also coming into my screen today was a blog entry from The Oildrum, specifically a guest blog under the byline of “Gail the Actuary” in which an expert on space-based solar power explained how a new approach to the launch of vehicles may be able to cut the cost enough that space-based solar energy would become an answer, even the answer, to our future energy problems. Space-based solar arrays are one of those technologies that are always somewhere over the horizon, and some would say over the rainbow. If you take a few minutes to read this blog, and again the comments, you find the dissonance on full display. On the one hand you have a person saying that there may be an energy answer after fossil fuels. On the other hand you have lots of people not only saying it is not possible, but directly arguing that a human die-back is more desirable than cheap energy.

And so it goes.

At the end of the Fire 2009 conference, an audience member said he felt depressed, that the environmental problems discussed there seemed too large and the time seemed to late to respond. David Brin, the great science fiction writer, also in the audience, responded that we have to hope that humans come up with the breakthroughs, technological and social and values-based, that enable the enterprise of civilization to continue. The alternative is despair.

I thought this summed up things quite well.

Glen Hiemstra is a futurist speaker, consultant, blogger, internet video host and founder of To arrange for a speech contact

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March 18th, 2009 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Business & Economy | Comments Off

The Future of Insurance, a futurist speaker program by Glen Hiemstra

On March 6, 2009 I had the opportunity to present a keynote on the future of insurance for Explore Information Services, a unit of USIS. This was a meeting of their advisory forum, a group of about thirty North American insurance companies that focus on property and automobile insurance. My job was to think with them about key drivers shaping the future of the business, beyond today’s economic crisis headlines, important though that may be.

We stated with various internal industry forecasts, both from last year and this year. What was interesting is how, last year, industry insiders were seeing things like climate change, but missing things like the financial crisis. This year, the assumptions are reversed, and the financial markets head the list of issues and risk, while climate issues for example remain. We discussed how, strangely, immediate trends seem harder to anticipate than mid-term and longer-term trends.

I concentrated on trends in demographics – aging workforce and aging customer base, digital native workforce and customer base, growing Latino population in North America, again both as customer base and workforce. We looked at “global weirding” to use a term from Amory Lovins, and the continuing threat to property posed by climate change. We explored IT, and the impact it is having on marketing and sales. I noted some other tech that will impact property and vehicles – like nanomaterials, and smart highways. I highlighted the emergence of social networks as a business communication and marketing space. I concluded with a look at knowledge value economics and at political forces. Essentially, each year there is an increasing need to stand out as the smartest products with the best information in them for buyers. On the regulatory front, I agreed with the industry assumption that more regulation is coming, and that this regulation will become more uniform if not national. No big surprise there.

You can review the keynote slide program here, via SlideShare. I enjoyed the forum, and the conversation.

Glen Hiemstra is a futurist speaker, consultant, blogger, internet video host and founder of To arrange for a speech contact

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February 26th, 2009 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Business & Economy, Innovation, Science & Tech | 6 Comments

Innovate our way out of recession

This is a google alert for an amazing piece in Business Week, based on interviews with me, Glen Hiemstra, and a few other innovators and thinkers, by a terrific writer, Damian Joseph.

Damian offers an overview of the need for and power of innovation, followed by a list of 20 innovations for the next 10 years.

I will say more this weekend about this material when I am off the road, but for now, here is the google alert that I received.

Google News Alert for: glen hiemstra

Innovations of the Future
BusinessWeek – USA
Glen Hiemstra, author and founder of, wants to see universal coverage, while allowing folks to purchase insurance privately. …

Innovation from Recession (this is the set of 20 innovations, with a nice piece on each one).
BusinessWeek – USA
So BusinessWeek asked several futurists, including’s Glen Hiemstra, consultant David Zach, and author Howard Rheingold, to describe what they’d …

Glen Hiemstra is a futurist speaker, consultant, blogger, internet video host and founder of To arrange for a speech contact

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February 25th, 2009 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Art & Society, Innovation | Comments Off

Future of Cities: Atlanta Fifty Forward

The Atlanta Regional Commission is the regional governance organization for Atlanta and surrounding counties. I first met them in the 1990’s when they invited me to assist in a project called Atlanta Vision 2020. In 2007, I assisted their Board and management in a long-range planning retreat. Later that year the ARC kicked off a new long-range thinking project called “Fifty Forward,” an effort to imagine the Atlanta region circa 2060. We have displayed a video here for some time that was part of the kick-off event, of children discussing their future visions.

I was invited to give the keynote speech for the Fifty Forward kick-off, which was the annual Economic Forecast breakfast, attended by about 1200 regional residents. After my speech on that November day, we taped a television interview. It is perhaps the best TV interview that I have been involved with, and the ARC recently gave me permission to display the video here at

In the interview, conducted by Susan Hoffman, I focus on the forces shaping the future of Atlanta and the future of cities in general. These forces are an aging population, energy and environmental trends that suggest a need to shift away from a car-centered life-style, and the entire housing crisis, in particular the fact that we build the wrong dwellings for the future. In short, cities will need to move toward more walkable, sustainable, and efficient forms in order to flourish in the future.

Since the interview, gasoline prices have sky-rocketed, then plummeted, but the same principles apply to the future of cities and urban form. Watch the interview and let us know what you think.

Glen Hiemstra is a futurist speaker, consultant, blogger, internet video host and founder of To arrange for a speech contact

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