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Arthur Muliro

Futurist Profile

 

Arthur Muliro

Arthur Muliro is Deputy Managing Director at the Society for International Development (SID) in Rome. Amongst other responsibilities, Arthur leads SID’s Futures programme that works closely with diverse development stakeholders to develop future-oriented public-interest scenarios that are focused on the challenges of institutional transition and transformation. He has successfully managed large-scale public interest scenario projects in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and regionally.

Prior to joining SID, Arthur worked for the Centre for Innovative Leadership, a Johannesburg-based consulting firm specializing in organizational learning and scenario thinking. He also worked for several years in student leadership at various levels regionally and internationally. A graduate of the United States International University – Africa, Arthur holds a degree in Management Information Systems.

Arthur Muliro answered a few questions about his perspective and on being a futures thinker.

ABOUT YOU AS A FUTURES THINKER / PRACTITIONER

You identify yourself as an African futures thinker or practitioner. How would you describe to the woman or man on the street what it is that you do in this regard?

In my work, we try and look at how the world around us is unfolding, the key developments that are shaping and likely to shape the future and how we are anticipating these events and/or responding to them. What kinds of conversations are we having? What kinds of decisions are we taking?

How many years have you worked as an African futures thinker / practitioner?

Seventeen Years

In which countries or places have you had working experience as an African futures thinker / practitioner?

Kenya, South Africa, United Kingdom, Italy, Belgium, Tanzania, Uganda.

In what languages have you undertaken futures / foresight related work or research?

English, Italian

What is it that motivates you to work or participate in the foresight / future studies / related field

It keeps my curiosity satisfied and pushes me to keep learning...

What goal/s would you most like to reach with your work as an African futures thinker / practitioner?

Through my work, I see myself contributing to helping radicate within our society and institutions a deeper sense of awareness about the future and more particularly, how we can be active contributors in shaping futures.

Who or what most influenced your thinking as a futures thinker / practitioner, and how?

An unconnected series of episodes in my life - first, coming into contact with a book 'The next 200 years' by Herman Kahn. This was in the late '70s. Not quite sure that I understood at the time all that Kahn and co. wrote, but I was fascinated by the fact that someone could dare to think about what the world would be like 2 centuries hence and what the US role would be.

Second, being thrust (unwillingly) into a leadership position at university and having to plot a path forward for this particular organization. This reawakened my latent interest in shaping the future and I actively began to try and understand the discipline and how it was being applied within organizations.

What is your main disciplinary background? (i.e. your primary training / qualification)

  • Management Information Systems
  • Business Administration

How do other people describe you and how do you describe yourself?

Others describe me as… observant

I describe myself as… curious

 

YOUR PERSPECTIVE

What is one of your favourite quotes about the future?

"The future has a way of arriving unannounced" (George Will)

How would you describe the state of African futures thinking right now?

Getting better. There is still a need to make it more accessible to key decision makers in our institutions and the broader public as well.

What is, in your opinion, the main barrier to uptake of futures knowledge by African institutions and organisations?

Rigid hierarchies and limited communication within and across organizations that actually allow a non-learning culture to thrive.

If you were to give advice to someone who wants a career in African foresight / future studies, what would you say to him or her?

It is a hard slog, but don't let the negativism of those who want to see, or claim immediate results get you down. You need to be able to infect others with an enthusiasm for learning, for curiosity and exploration.

What are your recommended readings for every African futures thinker / practitioner?

Two interesting books...

  • The Living Company - Arie de Geus
  • The Age of Heretics: Heroes, Outlaws, and the Forerunners of Corporate Change - Art Kleiner

but above all, read widely and across subjects...

 

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