No such thing as “future-proof”
That’s it. It’s relatively easy. There’s nothing that can be future-proof. No matter what some marketing material or keynote speaker wants to promise.
We can prepare for different futures. We can work on resilience or anti-fragility, or adaptability. But there is no way to ensure that anything from an organization to a building or a strategy is “future-proof.” The future doesn’t work that way.
Until the future becomes the present, it is open and uncertain. And as long as we can’t be certain about the future, we can’t be sure that our plans will work out until they have to prove themselves in the future present (s. The Difference between Present Futures and Future Presents).
Sure, the term is often used when talking about preparing for the future in general. “Future-proofing” refers to keeping devices compatible and buildings adaptable to future use.
But I find using this specific term—which suggests certainty—fascinating, primarily when used in marketing. It’s a strong signal for the human yearning to know what’s ahead and be prepared. And the more known unknowns we become aware of, the stronger the urge to go for the solution that promises to be “future-proof.”
And thus, as usual, “future-proof” has nothing to do with the Future Presents and everything with present futures. The future is not real until it becomes the present. It only exists in our heads as images, hopes, dreams, fears, wishes, anticipations, and expectations.
Future-proofing means doing something in the present to keep the anxieties about the future at bay. And that’s completely fine and can be helpful. But we should not fool ourselves by thinking that because something is labeled as “future-proof,” it will be safe in the future.
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