John Petersen

July 11, 2009

John Petersen’s professional involvements include long-range strategic and product planning, and helping leadership design new approaches for dealing with the future. He has lead national non-profit organizations; worked in sales; manufacturing; real estate development; and marketing and advertising, mostly for companies he started himself. A graduate electrical engineer, he has also promoted rock concerts; produced conventions; and even worked as a disk jockey_among other things.

Mr. Petersen’s government and political experience includes stints at the National War College, the Institute for National Security Studies, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the National Security Council staff at the White House. He was a naval flight officer in the U.S. Navy and Navy Reserve and is a decorated veteran of both the Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars. He has served in senior positions for a number of presidential political campaigns and was an elected delegate to the Democratic National Convention in ’84.

John Petersen is considered by numerous influential leaders to be one of the most informed futurists in the country. He is the leading futurist strategizing for high impact surprises-wild cards – that are global in scope, potentially disruptive, and intrinsically out of control.

In 1989 Petersen founded The Arlington Institute (TAI), a non-profit, future-oriented think tank. TAI operates on the premise that effective thinking about the future is impossible without casting a very wide net. The research institute serves as an agent of change by moving new concepts into the policy arena and creating intellectual frameworks for understanding them. Through gaming events and simulations, modeling, scenario building, polling and analysis, TAI helps equip leaders from many disciplines with tools and perspectives on probable futures.

An award-winning writer, Petersen’s first book, The Road to 2015: Profiles of the Future was awarded Outstanding Academic Book of 1995 by CHOICE Academic Review, and remained on The World Future Society’s bestseller list for over a year. His latest book, Out of the Blue: How To Anticipate Wild Cards and Big Future Surprises (2nd edition to be released in November ’99) is also a WFS bestseller. His co-authored article, The Year 2000: Social Chaos or Social Transformation? is one of the most highly acclaimed writings on Y2K. His 1993 book-length report The Road to 2012: Looking Toward the Next Two Decades was used at the highest levels of American government as a basis strategic planning. Mr. Petersen writes regularly on the future of aviation for Professional Pilot magazine.

Mr. Petersen is a network member of the Global Business Network and vice chairman of the board of the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation, serves on the Mobile Computing Science Advisory Board for IBM and the advisory board for the public polling firm, Americans Talk Issues. A provocative public speaker, he addresses a wide array of audiences around the world on a variety of future subjects. When he is not writing or public speaking, consulting to the Pentagon, strategizing for Wild Cards, or constructing his own airplane, John Petersen leads workshops that help corporate clients build new images of possible futures and visions for reaching their goals. He lives in the D.C. area with his wife, Diane.

Arlington Institute
See essays by this author:
How to Change the World . . . Quickly
Wild Cards: The Nature of Big Future Surprises