Scott Smith — Managing Partner
Scott is best—and worst—described as futurist, taking a distinctly non-traditional approach to the job. He is also a writer, critic and educator. As founder and managing partner of Changeist since 2007, he points the way for the team's research, and manages partnerships and strategic direction for the group.
Scott's work covers 25 years looking for and describing the "So what?" of change across technology, society, economics and politics. His time is spent between gathering new signals in the world, making sense of them at a quiet table or crowded whiteboard, giving them narrative form on sketch paper, in a text editor, or on camera. He has lived in three countries and worked in over 20, and managed strategy and research teams in New York, Washington and London before launching Changeist.
Scott heads the Designing the Future programme for Dubai Future Academy, and lectures in the Innovation & Future Thinking programme at IED Barcelona, which he helped create. He has written for The Atlantic, Quartz, The Next Web, WIRED UK, How We Get to Next, Medium, The Long View, and HOLO 2, and spoken at major events as diverse as The Next Web, Lift, Helsinki's Flow Festival, South Australia's Open State, EPIC, SxSW, Sibos, FutureEverything, and NEXT14 and 15.
What work most influenced your understanding of the future when you were young? Ray Bradbury's books, because they showed futures that could be extraordinary and hyperordinary at the same time.
- What cultural experience has most influenced your view lately? Spending time living in different cultures has made it clear that each culture has a different construct of time—of what "the future" even means.
- What's next on your horizon? Trying to crunch through two different treatment ideas for TV, whatever that looks like in a few years. And a book on futures.
Susan Cox-Smith — Partner, Executive Producer
Drawing on over 20 years of experience as a writer, designer, creative director, interactive producer and researcher Susan seeks to enrich public engagement with possible futures.
In addition to client work, she has written for Medium, How We Get to Next, The Next Web and other publications. She has presented workshops at A/D/O in Brooklyn, Sibos in Geneva, ThingsCon Amsterdam and UXLondon, and facilitated How to Future modules in Dubai and Malta. She also speaks at various events, most recently, Fiber Festival in Amsterdam.
In her spare time, Susan supports the University of Leiden’s respected online learning lab courses, as a consultant, community coordinator and mentor.
- What work most influenced your understanding of the future when you were young? I think Antony Burgess's "A Clockwork Orange" helped me understand how systems conflict with and do violence to difference.
- What cultural experience has most influenced your view lately? Spending more time in the world, visiting different places, allowed me access to an amazing array of different lives and perspectives.
- What's next on your horizon? Finding my own narrative voice—in writing, collaboration with others, experimenting with new platforms.
Madeline Ashby is a futurist and science fiction writer based in Toronto, Canada. Alongside supporting Changeist projects. She has worked with organizations like the Institute for the Future, SciFutures, Nesta, Data & Society, the Atlantic Council, Strategic Innovation Lab, and others. She has conducted workshops with groups like Engineers Without Borders Canada, United Way Canada, and the Ontario Media Development Corporation.
She also lectures on science fiction and design thinking at OCAD University in Toronto, where she graduated with a Masters of Design from the Strategic Foresight & Innovation programme, and in creativity and collaboration at Ryerson University. Madeline is also a guest lecturer in the Designing the Future programme at the Dubai Future Academy.
She is also the author of the Machine Dynasty series, and the novel Company Town from Tor Books, which was runner up for the Canada Reads prize in 2017. Her fiction has been translated into Japanese and German.
- What work most influenced your understanding of the future when you were young? I didn't have any expectation that "the future" might look any sort of way, based on the media I was consuming. But I did expect the future to be better than the past. I expected better. I expected more.
- What cultural experience has most influenced your view lately? Anytime I'm a stranger, no matter where I am, is valuable to me. The only thing that's better is completely disappearing.
- What's next on your horizon? I'm writing a novel. It's about a startup. And murder.
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