Thinking Like a Futurist: Strategic Leadership and Seeing Around Corners        

If you have ever wished that you could think like a futurist, engage in futures foresight, and stay ahead of new megatrends that are emerging on the horizon, this course will help you demonstrate visionary leadership and your innovation capacity. Female leaders are invited to participate in a dynamic two-day program focused on strategic thinking and future-focused leadership. In an era of exponential disruption, where accelerating technological change, global markets, and environmental crises are transforming the world, leaders are required to design and navigate complex futures.

Artificial intelligence, robotics, machine learning and algorithms, longevity discoveries, space travel, new values frameworks, and other breakthroughs, are on the fertile verge of exploration, with industry and government innovation already underway. Are you ready to seize the advantages inherent in these opportunities and to help design possible and preferred futures?

Strategic thinking and leadership are prized by CEOs, Presidents and Deputy Ministers alike. Do you know how you compare as a strategic thinker and leader? Are executives at the top of your organization thinking of you when they shortlist their most strategic and farsighted leaders for advancement? Do you know how to harness the power of creative networks and mavericks?

Attend and learn how you can sharpen your strategic acumen!

Program Dates
May 9-10, 2018
Registration is now full      

The Rideau Club
99 Bank St.
Ottawa, ON K1P 1H4

Who should participate in this leadership program?
This advanced program for women will appeal to those who already possess some leadership experience and who wish to be known for their strategic vision and excellence as they advance into more senior leadership positions. Leaders responsible for shaping the future of their organization will benefit from the program, as will those responsible for policy development, program direction, and strategic planning.

It builds on the foundation of the Advancing Women in Leadership Program (AWLP) and situates strategic thinking and leadership competencies in an Exponential Age. This is a time where the sweeping forces of global change, new economies of discovery – propelled by scientific and technological feats of disruption – and, environmental realities are reverberating across every nation and every sector. It requires a powerful imagination and the ability to think like a futurist to envision breakthroughs and then go about executing them.

Image from Ex Machina, an independent science fiction film written and directed by Alex Garland (2015)

Operating Context
New governance forms and entire sectors are always being born even as old ones are becoming obsolete at a dizzying pace. Cyclical downturns are yielding to permanent structural changes in our economy and society, reshaping the way in which we work and live. Governments and businesses are grappling with a digital age that represents a unique opportunity for reinvention, even as there is dislocation, distortion, and dissonance on the horizon.

The World Economic Forum observed in a global study of G20 nations recently that 45-47% of Canada’s jobs are expected to be overtaken by automation and artificial intelligence in the near future. The Mowat Centre notes that 45% of Canadian jobs could disappear in the next 10-20 years. Women in leadership roles need to be able to see around corners and to be seen as visionary leaders and catalytic agents for transformation and innovation.

In short, the future belongs to leaders who see possibilities before they become obvious. Various studies have demonstrated that women are often perceived as being less strategic than their male counterparts. You can overcome this perception by adopting the skills of farsighted leaders who create a positive future state that galvanizes the energy and imagination of team members and peers.

What to Expect
This program equips you to generate rapid breakthroughs in performance and to create value for your organization that did not exist previously. You will leave with a better appreciation of:

  • What it is to be a creative disruptor, altering the present in the service of a better future
  • The characteristics of strategic thinkers and far-sighted leaders
  • How you compare as a strategic leader
  • Meta-competencies needed
  • Methodologies for seeing around corners into the future
  • Divergent thinking, systems complexity and ideas mapping
  • Techniques for challenging long-held assumptions that impede organizational progress
  • Sense-making and amplifying weak signals of emerging discoveries
  • How to operate like a futurist and engage in leadership foresight to reframe decision-making
  • How to illuminate cognitive biases and blind spots that result in 70% of change initiatives failing
  • Tapping into the power of the crowd and of networks
  • The future of work
  • Megatrends and transformations occurring with: Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, embedded technologies, sensors, data analytics, machine learning and deep learning neural networks, synthetic biology, nano-biotechnology, the longevity economy, ethical frameworks needed for a new era
  • Developments that are blurring the boundaries between living and non-living matter

Program Fee 

  • $1,600 per participant, plus HST – Regular rate for individuals registering themselves
  • $1450 per participant, plus HST – Preferred rate for organizations registering three or more participants

Register Online. The price includes expert facilitation, course materials, morning and afternoon coffee breaks, and lunch. For more information about the program and payment options contact Aemilia Jarvis at 613-520-2650 or via email (

Program Facilitator
Dawn Nicholson-O’Brien facilitates the program. She is the President and CEO of Celtic Oracle, an executive consulting firm. She has 38 years of experience working with public and private sector organizations to achieve leadership and modern governance excellence. A published author, a certified master coach and a professional negotiator, she is a sought-after speaker.

Dawn Nicholson-O’Brien

During 34 years in the Government of Canada, Dawn served in senior leadership roles, culminating in a role as an acting Agency Head. She also served as Vice President of the Institute on Governance before assuming her current role as President of her firm. Known as an innovator, Dawn has worked on innovation, science and technology strategies and transformational agendas for the federal government, with Cabinet Ministers, Clerks, Deputy Ministers, and, with CEOs and private sector leaders. She led global innovation initiatives with international bodies such as the OECD.

Dawn collaborates on the design and delivery of advanced leadership development programs for executives at Carleton University.

Customized Program
This program can be customized for various operating environments upon request, for organizations who wish to stay ahead of the curve of exponential accelerations occurring. Associated inquiries may be directed to Dawn Nicholson-O’Brien (