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Applied Futures Research Overview, 2002

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Applied Futures Research Overview, 2002

  1. 1. Applied Futures Research: O verview, C ommon Tools, and Common Weaknesses Dr. Wendy L. Schultz Infinite Futures 2001-2002 Fulbright Lecturer, Finland Futures Research Centre [email_address] http://www.infinitefutures.com
  2. 2. Positivists vs. Futurists: design differences <ul><li>theory formation vs. futures articulation </li></ul><ul><li>reductionist vs. systemic & holistic </li></ul><ul><li>experimental vs. descriptive </li></ul><ul><li>linear systems vs. complex & chaotic systems </li></ul><ul><li>predictive vs. exploratory </li></ul><ul><li>reproducible results vs. insights </li></ul><ul><li>one hard ’truth’ vs. multiple soft ’alternatives’ </li></ul><ul><li>value-neutral vs. value-loaded </li></ul>
  3. 3. Positivists vs. Futurists: researchers’ roles <ul><li>objective vs. subjective </li></ul><ul><li>observer vs. facilitator/participant </li></ul><ul><li>knowledge revealer vs. change agent </li></ul><ul><li>reporting vs. performing </li></ul><ul><li>Futures studies assumes that the point of exploring multiple possible outcomes is to help people create the futures they desire: active, value-focussed research. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Alternative possible futures... <ul><li>Reality is a non-linear -- i .e., chaotic -- system, and thus impossible to predict; </li></ul><ul><li>Possible futures emerge from the turbulent interplay of current trends and emerging issues of change. </li></ul>trends innovations revolutions, etc. possibility one possibility two possibility three … etc.
  5. 5. … alternative possible futures <ul><li>A basic assumption of futures studies: not one future, but many possible futures; </li></ul><ul><li>of those possible futures, some are more probable than others -- evaluate changing probabilities by monitoring trend growth; </li></ul><ul><li>of those possible futures, some are more preferable than others -- evaluate preferability by dialogue within community. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Alternative futures: possible, probable, and preferable objective of futures studies: act to enhance the probability of our preferable futures. possible futures probable futures preferable futures
  7. 7. Five Key Components of Applied Futures Research ID & Monitor Change Critique Implications Imagine Difference Envision Preferred Plan and Implement Identify patterns of change: trends in chosen variables, changes in cycles, and emerging issues of change. Examine primary, secondary, tertiary impacts; inequities in impacts; differential access, etc. Identify, analyze, and build alternative images of the future, or ’scenarios .’ Identify, analyze, and articulate images of preferred futures, or ’visions .’ Identify stakeholders, resources; clarify goals; design strategies; organize action; create change.
  8. 8. Strategic Planning and Foresight stakeholder analysis SWOT VISION typical strategic planning process mission + values strategies, resources, milestones, evaluation what futures studies and foresight add: wider change scans scenarios to explore emerging possibilities … and to enrich vision … and to audit strategy flexibility CURRENT CONDITIONS: market, clients, competitors, innovations, state of organization
  9. 9. Categories of data required by common foresight tools... Environmental Scanning Visioning SWOT, Strategies, Evaluation Scenario Building Creating Change Change Futures Wheels , Impact Matrices Square boxes require data from external sources; hexagons require both. visioning requires internal value data;
  10. 10. Context: applied futures research
  11. 11. Identifying change... <ul><li>Current conditions; </li></ul><ul><li>Cycles; </li></ul><ul><li>Trends; </li></ul><ul><li>Emerging issues of change; and </li></ul><ul><li>Wild cards. </li></ul><ul><li>Locate its source; </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluate its likelihood; </li></ul><ul><li>Monitor its growth; and </li></ul><ul><li>Track its spread. </li></ul>Kinds of change…. … look everywhere!
  12. 12. Environmental Scanning <ul><li>Primary futures tool for identifying and monitoring emergence, growth, and coalescence of change. </li></ul><ul><li>Related to issues management and competitive intelligence. </li></ul><ul><li>” Environment” refers to the information environment – all media – and ”scanning” to the logically structured, iterative monitoring of selected information sources. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Trends, emerging issues… and wild cards. Mapping a trend’s diffusion into public awareness from its starting point as an emerging issue of change. adapted from J. Coates, Issues Management WILDCARD!! TIME number of cases; degree of public awareness local; few cases; emerging issues global; multiple dispersed cases; trends and megatrends scientists; artists; radicals; lunatics specialists’ journals and websites layperson’s magazines, websites, documentaries newspapers, news magazines government institutions
  14. 14. Environmental Scanning: a basic approach…. <ul><li>Choose 5-9 information sources: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Number of sources will vary because update rate per source varies; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sector of sources MUST vary: ”360 o view;” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Specialist and fringe sources preferred. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Create scanning database: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>t itle , s ource , d escription , i mplications , STEEP c ategory (ies), ( k eywords) , ID # . </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Common futures research tools… identifying/monitoring change. <ul><li>Data collection: historical analysis to identify cycles, database construction to identify trends. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Historical/cultural/structural bias; hidden data gaps </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Environmental scanning: emerging issues (’weak signals’) identification, evaluation, and analysis. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Identification relies on familiarity with state-of-art </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Assumption analysis: assumption identification and reversal, linked to emerging issues for ’wild card’ extrapolation. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No rigorously defined identification method exists. </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. … looking for impacts <ul><li>How might our homes & families change? </li></ul><ul><li>How might our work change? </li></ul><ul><li>How might our hobbies & leisure differ? </li></ul><ul><li>How might we travel & communicate? </li></ul><ul><li>How might childhood & education differ? </li></ul><ul><li>How might our environment change? </li></ul><ul><li>How might government & economy differ? </li></ul>
  17. 17. Emerging issues of change… <ul><li>24/7/365: no home-office divide – but flexibility!; </li></ul><ul><li>By 2015, we talk to our computers, they talk back, and recognize us via biometrics; </li></ul><ul><li>By 2015, augmented reality widespread; </li></ul><ul><li>By 2020, people are “globens” – world citizens; </li></ul><ul><li>By 2020, routine, computer language translation; </li></ul><ul><li>By 2030, micromachines create “smart” materials; </li></ul>
  18. 18. … emerging issues of change, cont’d. <ul><li>By 2030, anti-aging advances let us live from 35-95 as “the same age;” </li></ul><ul><li>By 2035, a manned mission to Mars; </li></ul><ul><li>3-D scanning, faxing, and “printing:” the home fabrication unit. </li></ul><ul><li>Continued global warming, with sea-level rise; </li></ul><ul><li>Loss of biodiversity, especially of marine life. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Futures Wheels: Workshop Instructions <ul><li>Enter your assigned change in the inner circle of your worksheet. </li></ul><ul><li>Everyone take five minutes by themselves to imagine possible impacts of this change over the next fifteen years. </li></ul><ul><li>Share your individual lists within your group. Which of these are immediate, or primary, impacts? Write those down next to the appropriate “spoke”. </li></ul><ul><li>Now consider each primary impact, one by one. Brainstorm two or three impacts it will have, and map those, connecting each to its primary impact. </li></ul>
  20. 20. change work? hobbies? education? home/ families? travel? communications? economy? environment? Futures Wheel primary effects secondary effects
  21. 21. Common futures research tools… critiquing impacts of change. <ul><li>Cross-impact matrices: structured, rated comparison of impacts against each other. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Spurious mathematicization; linear. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Futures wheels: brainstorming primary, secondary, tertiary impacts. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Disorganized; gaps in impact generation; doesn’t account for time differences. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Causal layered analysis: interpretation of social texts, symbols, myths re: change. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Subjective, culturally bound, subtle. </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Existing images of alternative futures: sources <ul><li>Individuals… what do people think? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g., Surveys, Ethnographic Futures Research, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Culture... what do religions imply? political ideologies? what do artists imagine? writers? advertisers? other artifacts? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Content analysis; hermeneutic analysis, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Forecasts … what trends have researchers extrapolated? what scenarios have futurists built? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Secondary analysis of existing research and data. </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Scenarios : imagining difference through structured processes. <ul><li>Images of alternative possible futures; </li></ul><ul><li>Based on trends and emerging issues; </li></ul><ul><li>Exploratory , NOT predictive; </li></ul><ul><li>Present both opportunities and threats; </li></ul><ul><li>Real , NOT ideal; </li></ul><ul><li>Used to create contingency plans. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Effective scenarios…. provoke ideas! <ul><li>Vividly, boldly portray difference ; </li></ul><ul><li>Clearly identify the time horizon; </li></ul><ul><li>Explain how the change unfolded – tell the story of trends and impacts growing over time; </li></ul><ul><li>Are written in the present tense, as if the future were happening now; </li></ul><ul><li>Contain a few transformed elements of the ”past” – 2002 – to contrast the ”past” with the scenario’s present day. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Basic Scenario Building: FAR/Futures Table <ul><li>Choose variables: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>specific and critical; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>uncertain. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Estimate/forecast range of outcomes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>present trends extended vs. transformation; or </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>high, medium, low; etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Create internally consistent scenarios: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>identify and resolve ”impossible pairs;” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>organize by logical relationship. </li></ul></ul>global regional nat’l local Supplies high medium low none Tariffs. youth mass ” green” luxury Market low medium high Int. rate D C B A Var Out
  26. 26. Basic Scenario Building: SRI Scenario Parameter Matrix <ul><li>Choose variables: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>specific and critical; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>uncertain. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Label scenario ”plots:” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>usually, ”present trends extended,” positive outcomes, negative outcomes, transformations. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Extrapolate a range of plausible outcomes for each variable. </li></ul><ul><li>Sort outcomes into the ”plot” column using the rule of logical consistency. </li></ul>recycled global local national Supplies freeware high none low Tariffs. ” green” specialty mass youth Market negative high low medium Int. rate Wild Card Down-side Up-side PTE Var Out
  27. 27. Basic Scenario Building: Schwartz/GBN Approach <ul><li>Critical issue: what decision keeps you awake at night? </li></ul><ul><li>Local operating environment: what key factors will determine the success or failure of the critical issue? </li></ul><ul><li>MACRO environment: what are some of the driving forces creating change in the wider world? </li></ul><ul><li>Rank those driving forces by importance and uncertainty: MOST important AND MOST uncertain. </li></ul>
  28. 28. Basic Scenario Building: Schwartz/GBN Approach, cont’d. <ul><li>Select the scenario logics and create the scenario matrix. </li></ul><ul><li>Flesh out the scenarios by referring to the key factors, and suggest plausible events that might create that end state. </li></ul><ul><li>Implications: how does the decision look in each scenario? -- SWOT analysis. </li></ul><ul><li>What might usefully serve as leading indicators or signposts that you are heading toward one or another of these scenarios? </li></ul>
  29. 29. Schwartz/GBN Example: Scenario Matrix for ”Global Agro-Seeds, Inc.” Example -- driving forces of change: development of the South; loss of marine biodiversity; trade protectionism; decreasing water supplies; public confidence in science ; religious/philosophical conflicts; nano-bio-tech convergence. Choose two most important to you, whose outcomes are most uncertain ; drawn axes showing the extremes of their possible outcomes. South flourishes South crashes ” Science saves” ” Science stumbles” broker of national, ” natural” gene stocks ” steward” of national, ” natural” gene stocks partner in engineering new exotics from local plant stocks supplier of high-yield engineered seeds for famine relief
  30. 30. Basic scenario building, Manoa Approach: <ul><li>Choose three emerging issues from different STEEP categories; </li></ul><ul><li>Create futures wheels exploring the impacts of each emerging issue, by a set date (2022); </li></ul><ul><li>Create a qualitative cross-impact matrix exploring the interactions of all three emerging issues; </li></ul><ul><li>imagine what a day would be like in the future where ALL those changes were real. </li></ul>
  31. 31. Manoa Approach Example: Three trends for 2030 <ul><li>Three futures wheels: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>24/7/365 economy; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>hyper-reality widespread; and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>continued global warming. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Brainstorm primary, secondary, tertiary impacts for each issue, addressing: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>government, economic structures, family life, patterns of work, education and training, arts and leisure, news and media, religion, etc. </li></ul></ul>“ 24/7/365” more workers needed “ mom’n’pop” shops fail
  32. 32. Manoa Approach Example: Three trends for 2030 Cross-Impacts: Emerging Issues “ 24/7/365” economy Hyper-reality widespread Continued global warming “ 24/7/365” economy Hyper-reality widespread Continued global warming Results of futures wheel Results of futures wheel Results of futures wheel What impacts will hyper-reality have on the 24/7/365 economy? What impacts will global warming have on the 24/7/365 economy? What impacts will the 24/7/365 economy have on hyper-reality? What impacts will global warming have on hyper-reality? What impacts will the 24/7/365 economy have on global warming? What impacts will hyper-reality have on global warming?
  33. 33. Common futures research tools…scenario building. <ul><li>Morphological analysis/FAR: linking logically consistent outcomes across parameters. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Limits unlikelihood, wild card thinking. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>SRI Scenario Parameter Matrix: uses four ’plots’ to vary outcomes across parameters. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mimics ’default’ images; confuses scenarios with vision. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>GBN/Shell approach: uses continua based on two uncertain trends to create four scenarios. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Limits uncertainties considered; polarizes; creates related scenarios. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Manoa approach: uses impacts and cross-impacts from three trends for each scenario. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lacks structural rigor, consistency checks. </li></ul></ul>
  34. 34. Strategic Design Trade-offs: Scenario Building as an Example Degree of difference from present Time horizon Reader Sophistication scenario parameter system dynamics: World3 GBN/Shell matrix futures table/FAR Manoa divergence mapping Burchsted- Crews
  35. 35. Effective visions….inspire action! <ul><li>Vividly, boldly portray hopes, ideals, and values ; </li></ul><ul><li>Clearly identify the time horizon; </li></ul><ul><li>Describe a ”future history” of actions and projects that created the improved ”present;” </li></ul><ul><li>Are written in the present tense, as if the preferred future were real now; </li></ul><ul><li>Contain a few transformed elements of the ”past” – 2002 – to contrast the ”past” with the vision’s improved present day. </li></ul>
  36. 36. Common futures research tools… visioning. <ul><li>Future Workshops: vision based on present-day problem-solving. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Very short timeline. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Future Search: vision based on history, stakeholders, trends. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Stakeholders must have historical relationship. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Appreciative Inquiry: based on dialogue, past successes, ’language creates reality.’ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No links to trends of change or emerging issues. </li></ul></ul>
  37. 37. Strategic Design Trade-offs: Visioning as an Example Degree of difference from present Time horizon Level of Participant Risk Future Search Nanus Appreciative Inquiry Boulding- Ziegler Futures Workshops Manoa
  38. 38. Common Research Flaws <ul><li>Flaws in choice: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Using the same tool for every project; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Attempting too much rigor; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Attempting too much creativity. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Flaws in application: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Excluding participation; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Process inflexibility. </li></ul></ul>
  39. 39. Common Research Flaws, cont’d. <ul><li>Flaws in communication: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No explicit statement of: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>time horizon; </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>social change theory; </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>values. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Generating too much complexity. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No process links to client dialogue or action. </li></ul></ul>

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