A Focus on Conversations about Futures

A Focus on Conversations about Futures

This site and my business website Foresight Futures are designed around my belief that before we embark on any foresight exercise - developing scenarios for example - we need to add a preliminary step where we first consider how we think about futures.

Most good foresight processes are designed to challenge our assumptions about futures that cause us to accept some futures as plausible and reject others. But often it's a process undertaken for an organisation or group rather than individuals. Yet it is our assumptions - biases, mindsets, whatever you want to call them - that will shape not only our thinking about futures but also our actions and decisions in the present. And if is often the futures we reject that seem to emerge over time - or bits of them anyway.

My PhD research led me to neuroscience and while it is very clear that we all have the neurological capacity to imagine possible futures (episodic foresight) and locate ourselves in future mental spaces, and remember them when we are in the present, we must also consider our individual capacity to be open to the vast realm of possible futures that are available to us now.

Many of us actually have closed minds to many futures without even knowing it, demonstrated best by what I call hitting an assumption wall - when your pattern dependent brain can't find a pattern for what you are imagining and stops you from accept the validity of that scenario. It happens all the time, not only when we think about futures, but we rarely pause and reflect on why we are thinking what we think. Without this step of challenging our assumptions, our thinking about futures is constrained, whether you believe it is or not.

That's is the space I am trying to work in at the moment - my work is focused on conversations about futures that draw on our individual, cultural, social and organisational assumptions about futures to ensure that challenging these assumptions is always integrated into the design of foresight processes.

It's a work in progress and now that I'm back at work, I'm focusing on developing the integrated design framework that will make this often missed step in foresight processes a reality.

Read more about it in the Conversations about Futures category here on Foresight in the Present.

As always, let me know if you have any questions, and thank you for staying with me in my silence these past weeks.