Design the Future

How to make better design by understanding future trends.

Marty McFly: What about all that talk about screwing up future events? The space-time continuum?
Dr. Emmett Brown: Well, I figured, what the hell.

So far nobody’s been able to travel in time and there’s been no need for discussion like Marty and Dr Emmett had in Back to the Future. However, when making design decisions we are constantly asked to predict the future. What users want in six months or one year? What technologies should we use? How long is our solution going to be relevant?

There’s no crystal ball to give you answers, but you can get better at understanding the future. It’s called foresight.

Foresight: the ability to judge correctly what is going to happen in the future and plan your actions based on this knowledge
Source: Cambridge Dictionary

European Foresight Platform EFP defines foresight as systematic, participatory, future intelligence gathering. Foresight time scale is medium to long term and it helps us to shape the future by taking action today. Foresight is not about reporting predetermined future outcomes, it gives us tools to influence the future we would like to see.

Future is co-created together; multi-disciplinary teams are in the heart of foresight.

As mentioned, foresight doesn’t assume future is predetermined. Creating a future vision has certain amount of ambiguity because foresight is open to alternative outcomes. Current actions and choices influences what happens in the future.

The inclusive nature of the foresight process means that sometimes participants can’t reach consensus on the vision for the future. This shouldn’t be seen as a failure, we should embrace different scenarios and include them in our findings.

Here are some methodologies commonly used in foresight sessions:

Weak Signals

Backcasting

Megatrends

 

Wild Cards and Black Swans

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