Sunday, June 30, 2024

Sharing Experiential Futures with governments around the world

I was recently honoured to deliver a virtual masterclass seminar to a global audience of public sector futurists, through the OECD’s (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) Government Foresight Community, or GFC for short.

The seminar was called Whatever It Takes: Supporting Strategic Conversation by Design. Briefly:

In order to be effective, foresight practitioners need to adopt a multidimensional approach to foresight. This means being able to distinguish and use what I posit as the three dimensions of foresight – difference (which is basic to thinking about change over time), diversity (essential to all scenario generation processes and to the field’s core philosophical shift from “future” singular to “futures” plural), and depth (often neglected in the field, but now addressed by the family of approaches known as Experiential Futures, or XF). XF practices are about providing immersive, interactive, embodied and emotionally engaging glimpses of alternative futures through design, media and the arts: whatever it takes. With this powerful set of methods, we are better equipped than ever to engage foresight in all its dimensions, for strategic and dialogic decision making, public policy, collective imagination, and cultural transformation.

The OECD has just posted video of the presentation, and it’s embedded above. My title “Whatever It Takes” is a nod to Yale information designer Edward Tufte’s philosophy of achieving communicative goals by hook or by crook (see The Futures of Everyday Life p. 110).

A lively conversation followed, but since their policy is to protect the possibility of open dialogue via the Chatham House Rule that part wasn’t recorded. 

This was the second masterclass to be offered in the series, the first having been given late last year by my friend Aaron Maniam from Singapore, now at Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government

It’s a significant opportunity they’ve spotted and initiated here; convening folks around big foresight questions and best practices from government and beyond. For those interested, the GFC was described to me by its OECD organisers as:

a network of public sector foresight practitioners from around the world. It includes OECD Member countries, but also non-OECD governments as well as some experts and practitioners from other international organisations, civil society, academia and the private sector. The purpose of the Community, and the speaker series, is to improve the practice of foresight within governments.

My sincere thanks to Rafał Kierzenkowski and his team for hosting me, as well as for this series in general, which is now several months and several more contributors further along. I place great value on the chance to demonstrate for such an audience not only the importance-in-principle, but also the possibility-in-practice, of producing more multidimensional, compelling, and impactful futures work in the public sector – where I started my career.

I'm told that this whole series, together with supporting materials, will soon be available via a new webpage for that purpose, and I'll update this post when that happens.

> Experiential Futures: A Brief Outline
On Getting Started in Experiential Futures (for The Omidyar Group)
Adding Dimensions to Development Futures with UNDP
Exploring Technology Governance Futures with the World Economic Forum
Introducing Experiential and Participatory Futures at the BBC
Bringing Futures to Stanford
> Participatory Futures for Democracy 
Three Dimensions of Foresight (for Columbia University DSL)
What Is the Value of Futures and Foresight? (for RSA)
> What Is Futures Studies? (for WEF – external)

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