Insights · September 11th, 2022

At the age of 14 a friend passed me a tape. I looked at the beaten up plastic case with its cracks and misted surfaces from too much wear. I slipped out the cassette and slid it into my walkman copy. My life changed.

It was a copy of the Dead Kennedys ‘Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables’ and it was a child of the UK punk movement supercharged with Jello Biafra’s incendiary narratives on modern politics, struggle and juxtapositions on the failing industrial and military complex. 

From there I dug in deeper to the roots of British punks – from the Sex Pistols and The Buzzcocks to The Clash and Crass. The common thread was a drive for change, a challenge of the tired status quo and apathy, and relentless energy in challenging THE FUTURE. It made me think of futures design and punk rock.

No future

No future

No future for you

Sex Pistols, ‘God Save the Queen’

The Imagination Age?

My teenage years shaped so much of who I am and what I believe in. It also primed me to consider our futures in wholly different ways. I have long considered writing books on punk rock business practices and we’ve seen entirely new ways of working and technologies that really embody self-agency and activism. But, we’re still weighed under our cultural prison of short-term thinking, quick wins, quarterly results, and bonuses for ‘great performance’ with little contribution to humanity’s plight.

I’ve finished writing my book ‘Facing Our Futures’ and I’m left in a reflective state. Challenging short-term thinking and positive futures work independent of exploring dystopian trajectories and destinations is going to be truly important for every business, government and world leader going forward. This book, the great thinkers I reference, and the methods I employ is my contribution to that need to develop futures consciousness.

We’re moving from the Information Age into the Imagination Age where our individual and collective creativity and imagination become the primary creators of economic value compared to  the main activities of the Information Age where analysis and thinking, and the weaponization of that, is the driver of value.

Creativity and imagination were ignited and celebrated in Punk Rock. It changed the world. New business models, new ways to express ourselves, standing up to old cultures of colonization.

Punk: A Feeling of No Future

At 5:47am on a Sunday I watched ‘Punk: A Feeling of No Future’ – a documentary about punk’s riotous inception with narration from Don Letts and Judy Blame Joppe Rog and Harris Elliott’s short film. It reminded me to challenge everything and that the idea of ‘no futures’ is as potent as rhetoric in the foresight world where we try to explore a wide range of plural futures.

The disillusioned youth came together and created an incredible energy that birthed new fashion, music, counterculture, art and movements that pushed against money and possessions that showed freedom through dissatisfaction.

It’s ain’t this weird thing that happened in the late 70s with mohawks and safety pins and all fuck you. It [punk rock] has a lineage and a heritage that predates that by hundreds if not thousands of years. Punk rock isn’t something to look back on. It’s something to look forward to. People really need to understand that.

Don Letts

That’s it! 

So, let’s decode that in a modern organizational context.

10 Punk Rock Rules for Modern Organizations

  1. There are no rules…

I, like so many in the futures field, now do this work earnestly because we never fit into the traditional business environment, or it was so apparent that we were not a good fit that we became unhirable.

With the idea of ‘no rules’ comes urgency and drive to explore our futures for in distant horizons there are no rules but what we make and in reality the rules are the last things we truly want to consider.

Punk was originally about creating new, important, energetic music that would hopefully threaten the status quo and the stupidity of the 1970s.

Jello Biafra

We need that now more than ever beyond music and with fundamental ideas of how the world can, should and will change in the 2030s, 2040s, 2050s ad infinitum.

Get angry. Get curious. Get mobilized. Be an activist!

I believe that we can all be Futurists, but with that comes the responsibility of being an activist. Research, influence, design, and walk the talk.

Our futures need you now more than ever. And, if people try to stop your inquiry, push through or get out and do what you feel is right. Find the people that believe in alternate futures and rewrite our reality.

Written with love by Nikolas Badminton

PS: Want to read more? Then check out ‘The need for fun, edgy and risky thinking in Futures Design’ or reach out to Nikolas to discuss your ideas.

Foresight Methods Innovation Long-term thinking
Nikolas Badminton – Chief Futurist

Nikolas Badminton

Nikolas is the Chief Futurist of the Futurist Think Tank. He is world-renowned futurist speaker, a Fellow of The RSA, and has worked with over 300 of the world’s most impactful companies to establish strategic foresight capabilities, identify trends shaping our world, help anticipate unforeseen risks, and design equitable futures for all. In his new book – ‘Facing Our Futures’ – he challenges short-term thinking and provides executives and organizations with the foundations for futures design and the tools to ignite curiosity, create a framework for futures exploration, and shift their mindset from what is to WHAT IF…

Contact Nikolas