Cecily Sommers

Cecily Sommers

Expert in Innovation and Change Literacy; Author, Think Like a Futurist

Minneapolis, Minnesota (Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul Area)
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Cecily Sommers's Overview

  • Expert in Strategic Foresight and Innovation; Author; Keynote Speaker at Professional Futurist
  • Advisory Board Member at University of Houston, Foresight Program
  • Advisory Board Member at Minnesota World's Fair
  • Advisory Board Member at Northrop Concerts and Lectures, University of Minnesota

500+ connections


Cecily Sommers' Summary

What future can you bank on? Futurist Cecily Sommers knows that making predictions is a fool’s game, however understanding and anticipating change is required practice for those who want to play smart.

She also knows that these are challenging times for organizations in all sectors, and that holding onto advantage is a slippery proposition at best. It is indeed tough out there: just as an increasing interconnected global economy requires a broader perspective, competing pressures from near-term priorities and shortened planning horizons cloud the picture. Issuing a challenge to eliminate short-sightedness, Cecily shows how a winning strategy is one that applies foresight to market forces, champions proprietary opportunities, and invents a future that can be chosen and planned for.

Identifying patterns and future potentials is Cecily’s specialty; strategizing proprietary opportunities is her passion; and connecting it all to real-time, right-now opportunities is what she delivers for companies as diverse as Accenture, American Express, Best Buy, General Mills, Kraft, Motorola, Nestlé Purina, Target, and Yahoo! A popular speaker at conferences, business schools and retreats across the country, Cecily takes her audience on a guided tour of the future, noting key opportunities and challenges along the way. Her provocative and entertaining trend analysis is enjoyed by many in her "Future Conversations" segment, heard regularly on All Things Considered as well as other media outlets.

“Cecily Sommers is a ChangeMaker in the best sense of the word. Her visionary approach ties human elements of meaning and content value to a business context in ways both easy and practical to implement. Even as she brings her followers forward, she is out still further – exploring, connecting, and searching for the next new thing, trend and idea. She is catalytic and brilliant, a true original thinker.”
- Merle Minda, former SVP, Fleishman-Hillard


Customized for each organization, Cecily’s fun and inspiring programs find fresh answers to the age-old questions, “Who are you?” “Where are you going?” and “What’s your territory?” Whether an industry forecast, innovation challenge, leadership development, or for future-proofing a brand, Cecily is able to penetrate core issues and get to the best questions quickly. Her provocative and engaging programs offer a practical approach to connecting near-term realities with long-term objectives.

Cecily Sommers' Experience

Expert in Strategic Foresight and Innovation; Author; Keynote Speaker

Professional Futurist

1998Present (16 years) Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul Area

• Speaker & Consultant with 13+ years experience identifying growth opportunities that shape business strategies and fill innovation pipelines, and ways to market for major corporations in both B-2-C and B-2-B industries, as well as public utilities, universities, and NGOs.
• A deep commitment to brand strategy informs all decisions in the innovation process, ensuring that a future vision sharpens a distinctive and meaningful point-of-view.
• Methods based on deep experience in arts and science for a razor-sharp, whole-brain approach to strategy and innovation.

- Trend Forecasts used to identify high-value growth opportunities and unique business platforms to fulfill them;
- Innovation projects, workshops, training, and program design, leading to breakthrough product concepts and business strategies;
- Visioning, trendscaping, and Scenario Planning that anticipates future conditions;
- Brand refresh for new business ventures as well as heritage brands;
- Excellent written and oral communication skills, engaging presentations

• Think Like a Futurist
• The New Role of Retail
• It All Makes Sense: The Simple Rules and Constants of Change
• 21st-Century Schizoid Man: Cultural Identity in the Age of Globalization
• A Futurist's Guide to Sustainability in Business
• Societal Dynamics 2020
• Bright Spots and White Spaces: Finding Opportunity in an Era of Creative Destruction

Educational Institution; 10,001+ employees; Higher Education industry

August 2014Present (2 months) Houston, Texas Area

One of the only institutions in the world teaching foresight (also known as Futures Studies or Strategic Foresight), the University of Houston offers a Masters of Science degree in futures thinking and methodologies. The U of H Foresight Program is highly-regarded and has the largest practitioner alumni network in the field.

The Foresight Program's Advisory board is composed of leaders, founders, and principals in the world of foresight: http://www.houstonfutures.org/advisors.html

Advisory Board Member

Minnesota World's Fair

October 2013Present (1 year) St. Paul, Minnesota

The Minnesota World's Fair is the planning organization for hosting the 2023 World's Fair Expo in Minnesota. World's Fairs are unprecedented in their ability to attract large masses of people to promote innovation and to improve the human condition. Benefits include:
- Economic benefit in tens of thousands of jobs and billions in new revenue to build new subways, rail lines and other infrastructure projects.
- An opportunity to showcase Minnesota's leadership and innovation in entertainment, agriculture, the environment, high-tech, green-tech and bio-tech.
- A one-of-a-kind diplomatic opportunity, with international engagement and a boost to trade for the state of Minnesota

Advisory Board Member

Northrop Concerts and Lectures, University of Minnesota

January 2013Present (1 year 9 months)

Northrop Concerts and Lectures, the University of Minnesota’s arts presenter, is dedicated to the advancement of the education, research, public engagement, and diversity mission of the University of Minnesota through the pursuit of excellence and innovation in the performing arts, community service, and creative exchange. Northrop Concerts and Lectures is also committed to civic engagement and community discourse.

Through partnership and collaboration, Northrop bridges the intellectual and artistic life of the university with the goals and issues of the local community, the nation, and the world.

Cecily Sommers' Languages

  • Spanish (conversational)

Cecily Sommers' Publications

  • Think Like a Futurist: Know what changes, what doesn't, and what's next

    • Jossey-Bass (October, 2012)
    • October 2, 2012
    Authors: Cecily Sommers

    Think Like a Futurist is the ground-breaking book that shows how to engage in new thinking in order to connect today's pressures with tomorrow's realities. Drawing from more than a decade of work with clients, noted futurist Cecily Sommers shows what it takes to apply long-term focus and strategies to needs as diverse as industry forecasts, innovation challenges, leadership development, and future-proofing a brand. In all her work, she shows how the skills and methodologies needed to think like a futurist can be taught to anyone, how they follow a clear, replicable structure, and how they can be scaled for groups of all sizes. Her book shares the same tools and techniques she uses with individuals and organizations to help them become unstuck from the "Permanent Present," the natural–and often disastrous–bias for projecting current conditions out into the future.

    Clearly and deftly, Think Like a Futurist explains how the social, economic, and environmental crises of our time spring from just four constant and predictable forces. Once you understand how they work together to drive change, you can stake out a territory that is yours to invent and own. Think Like a Futurist also reveals future-directed activities designed to spark creative epiphanies, push past resistance, and bring the power of foresight to strategy and innovation, resulting in fresh answers to the ageless questions: Who are you? Where are you going? and What's your territory?

    This is not a book about identifying trends, but rather transcending them, which is crucial in today's fast-paced world where success is often defined as movement from deadline to deadline (and crisis to crisis). Throughout, Cecily shows how to make your perspective both more elastic and comprehensive. With her approach, you'll find the long-term vision needed to see opportunities on the horizon and understand how to realize them.

Cecily Sommers' Honors and Awards

  • "Think Like A Futurist" nominated Most Significant Futures Work, Methods and Practice, 2014

    Association of Professional Futurists
    • January 2014

    “Think Like a Futurist” by Cecily Sommers is nominated for an APF Most Significant Futures Work Award for 2014 in the Category of “Methods and Practice.” You may know Cecily as a futurist and member or APF or from her earlier incarnation as the driving force behind the very successful PUSH movement and conference. We’re fortunate she has turned her attention to capturing lessons learned from working in the field, as well as sharing how she does it.

    Cecily bridges the worlds of foresight and innovation in this immensely handy book published by Jossey-Bass in 2012. This is a great book to hand to clients before an engagement, as it lays out foresight concepts and tools in a way that the non-futurist can readily grasp. It is a great example of translating foresight work to reach a general audience. The book is organized around a series of frameworks and models that are designed for memorability.

    Her work emphasizes tying the application of foresight to concerns of great value to clients. Cecily emphasizes the use of foresight for solving problems — relating to the future but tied back to the present. The link between foresight and innovation is particularly promising and the case is well made for it here. She provides a handy, readable account that provides a useful framework for doing foresight work as well as a good example of how to write for a general audience. In addition, the work is chock full of insights that any professional futurist practitioner should find themselves jotting down as a “keepers.”

  • Fast 50 Reader's Favorite

    Fast Company
    • 2007

    The Fast 50 is Fast Company magazine's annual readers' challenge, a worldwide search for ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Our goal is to remind the world of all the good that's created when passionate people with big ideas and strong convictions are determined to make a difference.

    Each year, the challenge generates thousands of entries and tens of thousands of comments from around the world, and results in high-profile recognition of 50 leaders, innovators, and technology pioneers. This year's challenge promises to be bigger and better.

  • One of 25 Women to Watch

    Business Journal
    • 2005

    Each year, the Business Journal honors 25 Women to Watch — leaders to keep an eye on for continued success. The program recognizes individuals for their creative energy applied to professional life, an impressive track record, leadership qualities, and future potential.

Cecily Sommers' Skills & Expertise

  1. Public Speaking
  2. Product Innovation
  3. Strategic Planning
  4. Foresight
  5. Scenario Planning
  6. Innovation Management
  7. Entrepreneurship
  8. Keynote presentations
  9. Design Thinking
  10. Customized Workshops
  11. Executive Coaching
  12. Innovation Development
  13. Brand Positioning Strategies
  14. Panel Moderator
  15. Motivational Speaking
  16. Thought Leadership
  17. Published Author
  18. Customer Insight
  19. Leadership
  20. Forecasting
  21. Leadership Development
  22. Business Strategy
  23. Strategy
  24. Program Management
  25. Change Management
  26. Management
  27. Blogging
  28. Social Media
  29. Brand Architecture
  30. Innovation Consulting
  31. Non-profits
  32. Positioning
  33. Strategic Thinking
  34. Creative Strategy
  35. Workshop Facilitation
  36. Social Entrepreneurship
  37. Social Media Marketing
  38. Executive Development
  39. Brand Development
  40. Personal Branding
  41. Creative Problem Solving
  42. Business Coaching
  43. Content Strategy
  44. Social Networking
  45. Nonprofits
  46. Training
  47. Corporate Branding
  48. Ethnography
  49. Consulting
  50. Facilitators

View All (50) Skills View Fewer Skills

Cecily Sommers' Additional Information

Groups and Associations:

Association of Professional Futurists World Future Society

Honors and Awards:

Fast Company: "Fast 50 Readers' Favorite"
Business Journal: One of 25 "Woman to Watch"
Who's Who in America

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