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Louis van der Merwe

Futurist Profile


Louis van der Merwe

Educator and Consultant

Managing Partner: Centre for Innovative Leadership (CIL)

Bachelors Degree majoring in Economics, Psychology and Ethnology - University of Pretoria
Masters Degree in Applied Behavior and Leadership - City University, Seattle, USA

Louis works in Africa, and internationally, as an expert consultant, strategy facilitator, executive-coach and educator. His core competence is in Scenario-based Strategy, Systems Thinking, Leadership Development and Organisation Effectiveness.

He has a passion for developing organisation capacity in general and specifically through leadership coaching and personal development planning, usually done in parallel with his work in large organisational systems, also in start up companies. His preferred approach is always to engage with organisations as a whole system and to work at scale.

Download Louis resume

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


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?

When people think about the future they try and predict  it when it is not possible. CIL helps them avoid this dangerous practise. Leadership needs to decide what they wish to do in the future and to take the followers with them, better than any competitors can which we can help with.

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

Since 1985

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

Mali, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Republic of South Africa, Botswana.

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

English, Dutch, Chinese, Americanese

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

Building a better world, growing people and building capacity in organisations.

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

Build a Pan African cadre of competent practitioners.

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

Pierre Wack, Ted Newland, Arie de Geus, Napier Collyns, Alvin Toffler, Peter Schwartz, MITs Peter Senge/Jay Forrester and Systems Dynamics.

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

Organisation Behaviour, Systems thinking, Scenario-based Strategy. Master’s Degree and International Publications, Book Chapters.

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

Others describe me as… out of the box

I describe myself as… a people-grower



What is one of your favourite quotes about the future?

“No problem is so big that you can’t run away from it”
- Snoopy

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

Emergent with pockets of excellence across the continent.

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

Sound theory-defined as; what works and why, together with structured learning from original thinkers.

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?

Combine and integrate theory and practise. Start with Scenario-based Strategy, Systems Thinking and Conversation Quality and Engagement competence.

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

What are your recommendations for other favourite futures resources: websites, newsfeeds, mailing lists, associations, etc.?


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