To describe the creative process of exploring possible futures, we use the term 'futuring'. The purpose of futuring is to inform decisions and actions in the present (rather than predicting the future). It generates new insights into the present situation from the vantage point of multiple futures, allowing participants to go beyond the status-quo and imagine how things could develop otherwise. Futuring situates solutions in a wider, systemic context, encouraging articulation of coherent and relevant visions. Futuring is particularly useful in uncertain conditions that call for acting with incomplete information, dealing with wicked problems, increasing agency, forging alliances, and fostering capacity to adapt to whatever the future might bring.

Futuring consists of many approaches to thinking and talking about the future, and can include ways of prototyping multiple alternatives. The approaches range from highly structured to freeform, they can draw upon personal experience or be broad and data-driven. A futuring process typically begins with observing and mapping the present situation, to describe the context, distinguish constants from variables and understand factors influencing the situation on micro and macro scales. Grounded in this understanding, participants track what changes are emerging “on the horizon” and what impacts these changes might have. The speculative aspect of futuring extrapolates and envisions how situations might unfold in multiple futures, through scenario building, future prehearsals, speculative prototypes, etc. Depending on the needs of the group, scenarios can be tested in real life, the steps from the present to a preferred future can be mapped through backcasting, and specifications or principles articulated to inform current development.

There are a wide range of approaches that can guide the futuring process towards desired outcomes. Some foster the development of particular aptitudes, mindsets and capacities to explore uncertainty. We often include “hands-on” techniques, and creative exercises that can be combined in different ways depending on context, resources and people involved. Specific configurations of techniques and methods can be integrated as a complete process.

  • futuring.txt
  • Last modified: 2021-01-29 10:31
  • by maja