What I hope to accomplish today
• Developing future perspectives:
• Why think about the future and how?
• What do megatrends mean for us?
• Identifying forces driving change
• Identifying opportunities
• Setting goals
• Futuring is hard work
• Change is systemic
• Technology – Social change – Environmental change
• Forward-looking leadership
• Proactive vs. reactive
• Staying informed (who is responsible for your future?)
• Constructing shared visions for the future
• What I want you to get out of this:
• Deeper understanding of futurology and what it can do for you
• Overview of some of the change forces expected to affect you
• Introduction to futures methodologies
• Leadership strategies for addressing long-term needs
• Describe possible futures based on emerging patterns of
technological, social and environmental change. (Are “big picture”
descriptions of possible futures)
• Can be viewed through a variety of lenses.
• Illustrate the nature of forces that are driving change.
• Suggest actions for today to build preferred future.
• Are themselves subject to change.
Some brief discussion points – The Sitra Megatrends
1. Labour markets
• Old jobs disappear
• Automation as a destructive force
• Task reallocation – each individual does more
• New jobs are created
• Automation creates new opportunities – automation as a creative force
• New resources create new opportunities
How do we balance destructive and creative forces?
2. Distribution of wealth
• The „haves“ have more/„have nots“ have less
• Who decides who gets what and on what basis?
• Automatisation of wealth creation
• Who reaps the benefits?
How do we ensure that wealth creation benefits those in need?
3. Governance systems
• Increasing ideological clashes
• Right vs. left
• Increasing geographical clashes
• East vs. West/North vs. South
• New forms of political engagement
• Participatory democracy
• Engagement through online communities
What is our role in shaping democratic systems so that they can better
deal with these challenges?
4. Economic systems
• Dwindling natural resources
• Resources in short supply
• Decreasing demand
• Growing awareness of need for long-term sustainability
• Changing value perceptions
What is the value of what we do?
What do we mean by the future?
The future is not something that happens to us. We are constantly
constructing it with our decisions and actions.
• The future is a time other than our own
• The future is not now!
• At any given moment there are an infinite number of futures
• We cannot know the future because none of us have been there.
• We can know what is prompting change but cannot definitively say what that change will look like.
• The ecology of futures:
• Possible futures – What can happen?
• Probable futures – What is likely to happen?
• Preferred futures – What do we want to happen?
• (The ecology of futures suggests that determining the future is not just an analytical activity. It is
equal parts analytical & creative.)
Change is systemic
ContextChange appears more
confusing the further out
we look toward the future.
We can reframe issues by
changing our perspective.
What does change look
- from the technological
- from the environmental
- from the social
Multiple perspectives give
us a more holistic overview
of the issues.
The push and pull
Megatrends from a technological perspective
• Blurred distinction between physical and digital environments:
• Interaction with physical & social environment is mediated by technology.
Multiplicity of technology-mediated social environments.
• Digitisation of what previously required a physical medium. Ex. Photos, music,
films & books. Next generation dematerialisation includes physical objects
that can be produced using 3D printing and other cheap and accessible
• Information finds consumers rather than consumers finding
• For example, “Fake news” & filter bubbles.
Analysing systemic change
The Futures Wheel:
• Identify possible impacts of
trends and events.
• Analyse & categorise
• What are preferred futures?
• What actions will increase
liklihood of preferred future?
Futures wheel exercise
• Groups map possible impacts for libraries of one of the following in a
futures wheel (or technologies named by participants):
1. Autonomous self-driving cars.
2. Augmented/mixed reality.
3. The Internet of Things (IoT).
Try to map several first & second order consequences and at least a few third order consequences.
Analysing futures wheel outcomes
• What are the most positive possible outcomes? The most negative?
• What perspective do the outcomes reflect (technological, social or
environmental)? How might they look from another perspective?
• What outcome(s) reflect(s) the most preferred possible future?
• What can be done today to increase the likelihood of the preferred
The future-conscious leader:
Proactive and reactive leadership
Look to the now
from the past.
Look from the
now to the
Visualising the future
• What scenarios do:
• Snapshots of what we think the future could or should look like.
• Mix of evidence-based futures and creative projections.
• Help us focus on important factors that can shape the future.
• Possible formats for scenarios:
• Narratives that describe a future.
• Images or physical models that illustrate a future.
• Activities that allow us to experience a future.
• How we use scenarios:
• Develop action plans (backcasting).
• Identify possible hindrances.
• In groups, create a brief scenario that illustrates your vision for the
• Can be a brief vignette, a drawing/diagram, a short skit, or modern
interpretive dance, for that matter.
• Needs to highlight the key points in your future vision in a way that others
understand your anticipations and concerns and empathise with you.
• Should be neutral enough that the audience can evaluate what is good or bad
on their own terms.
1. Determine the primary forces driving change that will inform your
• Technological forces, social forces, environmental forces.
2. Determine the context of your scenario.
• Where does this happen and who does it happen to?
3. Primary challenges.
• What are the key actors trying to accomplish
4. Use what you learned from your futures wheel.
Don’t hold back. In scenarios, the absurd and outrageous can be good!
• Where and what are the primary issues that are likely to come up?
• What are the pros/cons of the scenario?
• What does the preferred future look like?
• Backcasting (the opposite of forecasting):
• What can we do to ensure that the preferred future will be realised?
• Map major milestones between now and the realisation of the vision.
• Action plan to ensure that preferred future is realised.
• Contingency plans to deal with expected & unexpected events.
Challenges for the future-conscious leader
• Who is responsible for the future?
• Where do information & data come from?
• Who keeps it up-to-date?
• Keeping the organisation informed
• How are future-relevant information & data communicated?
• Constructing shared visions of the future
• Is everyone working towards the same goal?
• Translating a vision into action
• Does everyone know what they need to do?
• Does everyone have ample opportunity to do what needs to be done?
Gini coefficents – Where do Nordic countries stand
Ex. Google Glass: Tech perspective looked promising, social perspective doomed the device.
Google glass experience: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErpNpR3XYUw
Glass as others see them: https://admin.mashable.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Google-Glass-Mashable-5.jpg
Hyper-reality - The brief film clip (https://vimeo.com/166807261)
Dematerialisation (the evolution of the desktop): https://vimeo.com/107569286
Filter bubbles: A case study - http://www.education4site.org/blog/2013/filter-bubbles-a-challenge-for-information-literacy-in-the-21st-century/
Fake news is a valuable commodity – fake news sways public opinion.
The technologies involved:
Fab technologies, digital sharing platforms
AI, social media