MOST SIGNIFICANT FUTURES WORKS (MSFW)
CURRENT MSFW NOMINATIONS
Nominations for 2019 Most Significant Futures Works for works completed from 2018 to 2019 are now open. “How to nominate” and the rules for nominations can be found here.
Category 1: Advance the methodology and practice of foresight and futures studies
The Five Dimensions of Futures Consciousness, Sanna Ahvenharju, Matti Minkkinen, Fanny Lalot, Article, 2018, Futures, 104, 1–13. Category 1: Advance the methodology and practice of foresight and futures studies Nominating member: Petri Tapio
The authors develop a novel five-dimensional model of futures consciousness. The model is based on a literature review of futures studies spanning five decades, and it consists of the following dimensions: 1) Time Perspective, i.e. the ability for comprehending the passing of time, the sequentiality of consequences and the value of long-term thinking; 2) Agency Beliefs provide us with the confidence in our own potential to influence the course of events and the skill to see when this is possible; 3) Openness to Alternatives enables individuals to question authority and established truths, and critically but imaginatively evaluate potential future paths; 4) Systems Perception makes us aware of the complex connections between human and natural systems on this planet; and 5) Concern for others makes us appreciate how the future will be better for ourselves when it is better for others as well.
The five-dimensional Futures Consciousness concept holds significant promise for ground-breaking research as well as foresight practice. Firstly, the model builds the foundations for a paradigm shift in futures studies towards a systematic understanding of the anticipating agent’s horizons rather than projected alternative futures. Secondly, the five dimensions of Futures Consciousness can be operationalised and used for empirical research. For example, drawing on relevant psychological constructs, the authors have developed a psychometric tool to measure the level of futures consciousness in individuals (next article under review). The five dimensions can also be used for foresight evaluation, like in an ongoing project evaluating the Finnish national foresight system. Finally, the model offers foresight practitioners a heuristic tool to design workshops and training programmes. Futures Consciousness is not something that individuals either have or do not have; it is a capacity, a skill that should be developed.
The Little Book of Foresight, Jim Breaux, Book, Self-published, 2019 (link) Category 1: Advance the methodology and practice of foresight and futures studies; Nominating member: Carla Bass
The “Little Book of Foresight” is exactly what it promises – a short guide to remind futurists of the key tools for their craft, plus ideas and lists to inspire creativity. As Jim puts it: “It is not a complete cookbook, does not have any startling original ideas, or magic spells for divining the future.” This toolbox index, however, is what students in a formal foresight or futures program have wanted to create from their notes, but have not taken the time.
The importance of Jim’s work is in its simplicity, especially for “embedded” foresight practitioners and futurists who do not focus on the field full time or use the title. This book can serve as a quick guide and reminder for working foresight into other roles, without delving back into class notes or multiple volumes. It combines practices from the foresight program at the University of Houston (from which the author graduated), as well as the Manoa methods from the University of Hawaii program. It also included tools from outside those programs which I would consider adding to my own toolbox, including the “double diamond model of design thinking” from ICF. Jim has given credit throughout to the sources of ideas included in this book, and I assume he received permission to use them.
This “little book” will be of particular help to foresight practitioners familiar with the field and could also spark interest in non-practitioners. The writing and layout are simple and succinct, and Jim lets the tools and techniques speak for themselves. This work is deserving of recognition from the Association of Professional Futurists.
Imagine It Forward, Beth Comstock with Raz, Tahl, 2018, Crown Publishing Group, New York, NY. [link] Category 1: Advance the methodology and practice of foresight and futures studies; Nominating member: Sam Miller
Into a world that frequently struggles to make the connection between foresight and actionable strategy in business, former GE vice-chair Beth Comstock offers Imagine It Forward. This book offers practical perspective on the application of a wide range of foresight principles to help companies anticipate change and seize emerging strategic high ground. She suggests that business suffers from an “imagination gap”- where ideas go to die. The book spells out discovery, storytelling, and innovation strategies for challenging the status quo, becoming “change ready” and mobilizing to create new futures for the enterprise. These perspectives from the front lines of business can help practitioners build bridges between foresight and business strategy. A good read for anyone working at the intersection of foresight and strategy.
Category 2: Analyzes a significant future issue
#Blockchain4EU: Blockchain for Industrial Transformations, Susana Nascimento, Alexandre Pólvora, Joana Sousa Lourenço (European Commission, Joint Research Centre), Report, 2018, Publications Office of the European Union; Workshop blogs, Category: 2. Advance the methodology and practice of foresight and futures studies Nominating member: Elizabeth Florescu and John Sweeney
#Blockchain4EU is a forward-looking transdisciplinary exploration of existing, emerging and potential applications based on Blockchain and other DLTs for non-financial / industrial sectors. It stands at the intersection of evidence-based desk and qualitative empirical research with future-oriented experimental approaches for policy advice. Combining Science and Technology Studies with Foresight, Behavioral Insights, and Critical and Speculative Design, it enlarges the scope and spectrum of futures research and its applications. The three collective vision building workshops and other participatory activities engaged more than 200 stakeholders in anticipatory exercises.
Five speculative Blockchain prototypes were co-created and discussed via horizon scanning and generative design frameworks through these events, with the aim of better informing and inspiring policy makers and other relevant players. The prototypes are: Bloodchain (transports and logistics), Vantage Point (advanced manufacturing), Care AI (health), Gigbliss (energy) and Gossip Chain (creative industries). Their interactive existences make them material catalysts for forward-looking thinking and decision-making.
1. the original way of using multi-method futures-oriented approach -- by combining empirical foresight with design fictions grounded on robust participatory techniques;
2. the project generated vast anticipatory knowledge on opportunities and challenges of a technology that could significantly impact our policy, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental landscapes, amid uncertain and unfolding present developments.
3. the success it had for consideration in policy-- #Blockchain4EU results were recognized already in European Commission Communications, Funding Calls and Action Plans and a European Parliament Resolution explicitly acknowledging the value of its foresight approach.
4. development of new engagement tools to be used in collaborative foresight studies; the approach can be easily used and adapted by others, as its conceptual, methodological and technical information are fully available.
5. contribution to demonstrate the usefulness of foresight methodologies, dissemination of foresight knowledge and practices to other disciplines.
Towards Personalized Gastronomy 2050, Estefania Simon-Sasyk & Daniel Riveong, Report, 2019, Basque Culinary Center. Category 2: Analyzes a significant future issue Nominating member: John Sweeney
In recent years, there have been a number of projects and reports on the future of food in various shapes and forms. Few, if any, have focused on gastronomy, which is a more holistic approach to understanding what and how we eat. As one of the foundational projects of the Basque Culinary Center, Project Gastronomía is an initiative that addresses the food system challenges of the future through gastronomy in ways that are humanistic, sustainable, healthy, and delicious. The "Towards Personalized Gastronomy 2050" breaks new ground in exploring the futures of a familiar topic in novel and lively ways. Building on workshops and research, the report looks at how the rise of personalized gastronomy will shift views of health, our bodies, and food itself. In addition to outlining the outcomes of a foresight game centered on generating insights from top chefs, researchers, and scientists, the report poses a series of “what if’s” aimed at illuminating potential transformations in what and how we eat. In addition to focusing on Basque country, with its culinary mecca of San Sebastián, the report raises global-scale ethical questions surrounding how new technologies can and might shift our relationship with food. Ultimately, Project Gastronomía, which is encapsulated by the "Towards Personalized Gastronomy 2050" report, showcases how the Basque Culinary Center has institutionalized foresight as part of its research and consulting activities.
Since 2017, host Mark Sackler has been interviewing authors, futurists, entrepreneurs and miscellaneous experts on all aspects of the future of humanity. He collects these on his Seeking Delphi site. It’s been a great addition to the field, and frankly it was challenging do decide which of the topics deserved the nomination. I settled on his three-part series on the future of driving. Part 1 is an interview with Alex Wyglinski, president of IEEE’s Vehicle Technology Society on “Interconnectivity and Self-Driving Cars.” Part 2 interviews Kaushik Rajashekara, a University of Houston professor and IEEE fellow on “Flying Cars.” Part 3 interviews Griffin Schultz, CEO of Rapid Flow Technologies, on “Intelligent Traffic Control.”
Mark is a skilled interviewer and produces a crisp high-quality podcast. In this series on the future of driving, he covers the practical (inter-connectivity), the complex (traffic control) and the provocative (flying cars). I am very pleased to nominate this series as a representative of the great work he is doing.
Future Forward 2025, Angela Cain, Report, January 2019, CoreNet Global
[link] Category 2: Analyzes a significant future issue; Nominating members: Terry Grim & Marsha Rhea
CoreNet Global, an association for corporate real estate executives, serves more than 11,000 members in 50 countries through 46 local chapters. This 18-month foresight project successfully engaged a large, distributed, multi-national and multi-cultural community to create a shared vision of their future. This is how deep and meaningful change occurs—when many people engage in honest conversations about how they must change as individuals and an industry to better serve society’s evolving needs. Their futures process enabled forward-leaning decisions that will help shape the working environment for millions of people many years from now. And in their journey, have energized a diverse population to think like futurists for their decision making.
CoreNet Global organized five in-person work sessions globally, hosted virtual online sessions in differing time zones, and created “futures in a box” resources for chapters to hold their own sessions. Participants were introduced to a futures perspective (cone of plausibility, understanding change and thinking boldly). To create a matrix of focus areas, each of the global in-person meetings was also mapped to a STEEP category. (London – geopolitical, Singapore – social, Northern California – technology, New York – economic, Chicago – environment). All of these sessions also featured presentations / video from leading thought leaders and facilitated futures discussions. To guide CoreNet Global in its strategy development, members created forecasts for four functional areas of association work: belonging, convening, learning, and information / content.
Envisioning smart and sustainable healthcare: 3D Printing technologies for personalized medication. Rita Patrizia Aquinoa, Sergio Barileb, Antonio Grassoc, and Marialuisa Savianoa. Futures 103 (2018) 35–50 [link]. Category- 2- Analyze a significant future issue; Nominating member: Karen Rosenthal
This article highlights how 3D printing will revolutionize the drug delivery industry from an economic, social and ethical perspective. As the authors state, currently only $11 million is invested in medical applications but is projected to rise to $1.9 billion in 10 years. The use of 3D printing to produce medications in a pharmacy, rather than through a central manufacturer, has the potential to revolutionize an entire industry. What if consumers are able to obtain the software and filaments necessary to print their own medications? Regulators have not caught up with this concept. It is the “Industrial Revolution of the Pharmacy.” 3D printing has the potential to destroy the traditional drug supply-production-distribution chain- a $450B industry in the US. I believe this work is unique as it summarizes which medications have already been (experimentally) 3D printed but also puts this technology into context with the future of “personalized medicine.” Finally, what makes this paper original is how it highlights the role pharmacies may take in disrupting the traditional drug industry. I believe the authors have made a very strong argument that 3D printing of medication is integral to personalized medicine. Medical treatment based on genomics (amongst other factors) depends on medication specific for that individual and 3D printing is the only method to produce those drugs. But what the authors have done is take this concept much further and speculate on a scenario in which pharmacists control drug production. This work is well written and easily understood by non-medical professionals. The paper is also extremely well referenced, citing some very recent work in the area of 3D medical printing. In summary, the implications for in-pharmacy (and potentially in-home) 3D printing of medications may be as disruptive to the legal and illegal drug market as the internet was to libraries.
Associations frequently identify and assess emerging trends that might affect their membership and publish their assessments and conclusions for the benefit of their membership. This TrendsWatch report is an excellent example of that sharing of information and insight, and is well-tailored to its constituency of museums. This year the report covers truth, trust and fake news; blockchain; decolonization; homelessness and housing insecurity, and self care. It comes with a video overview, and the introduction includes advice on how to use the report, all necessary if the museum community are to see this report as more than a nice read.
The report tackles some of the tricky trends of our times, such as how people are getting information in our post-truth world, and what this means for society, and for museums, who are assumed to be deliverers of truth. The special importance of blockchain to museums is another chapter, as is their capacity to deal with today’s emerging demands for rethinking history.
Overall, this, the eighth edition of TrendsWatch, does what futurists can do extremely well, and that is to identify key issues, explain how these issues might be affecting society today and in the future and offer recommendations about how to understand and be effective in helping to shape outcomes relating to these trends. I highly recommend this report as a fascinating and well-written example of a first class futurist’s work.
Category 3: Illuminate the future through literary or artistic works
Making the Futures Present, Maggie Greyson, Research Project, February 14, 2017, Ontario College of Art and Design University. Category 3: Illuminates the future through literary or artistic works Nominating member: Zan Chandler
For global systems to shift, every stakeholder will need to have some insight about their own expectations of the future. Maggie Greyson’s personal experiential futures technique called Making the Futures Present helps people to use strategic foresight to explore diverse futures. This creative one-to-one or group workshop uses multiple futures as a human-centred design tool pushing foresight in different ways. It is an introduction to the value of foresight to new segments of society providing participants with the opportunity to experience long-term thinking in a playful setting.
The workshop is a strategic activity designed so that participants think about themselves in a broader context, gain awareness of an evolving landscape, and uncover their unconscious bias, before considering their goals in the future. They come to recognize that thinking about multiple futures is an opportunity to strategize what part they want to play now. Participants report that the experience creates very strong impacts on life transitions based on declarations of their values, current soft skills, and desired future abilities.
It incorporates a series of methods from strategic foresight, ethnography, design thinking, personal experience, and values-based decision making. Pushing 20 years into the future for adults, and 50 years for kids, it draws on imagination, intuition and real-life examples to generate vivid scenarios to explore. As clients require something more concrete and actionable than insights, rapid prototyping artifacts or experiences enables them to move beyond the abstract, while also providing an unexpected opportunity to voice what they value.
The simplicity of form and impact of the experience is so easy to teach that kids are teaching other kids to think about the future. The technique can also introduce the benefit of foresight to an organization and potentially grow a new audience for foresight practitioners.
Reimagining Our Tomorrows: Making Sure Your Future Doesn’t Suck, Joe Tankersley, Book, 2018, Unique Visions, [link] Category 3: Illuminate the future through literary or artistic works; Nominating member: Andy Hines
The world needs more positive visions of the future. So much of the imagery of the future is negative. It seems to me that too many people are afraid of the future. Into this void step this excellent collection of positive stories about the future from APF member and storyteller extraordinaire Joe Tankersley. His purpose is simple: “I want to help you reimagine our tomorrows.” He brings his more than thirty years of experience in being a professional storyteller, most of it at Disney, to the party, and treats us to entertaining and provocative images of how the future could be different….and better.
Home: We Can Choose Humanity’s Future, Ruth L. Miller, Book, 2018 by Portal Center Press [link] Category 3 - Illuminate the future through literary or artistic works; Nominating member: Oliver Markley
This book renders the complexity of global problems into an easy to read narrative that is something of an educational manual as it moves from rethinking our outdated cultural myths about consciousness, culture and economy, to a vision for creating communities whose economic, political, healthcare, and education systems would promote the achievement of futures that are economically just, ecologically sustainable, and socially inspiring. Very well written, with appendices of resources for social change activists. It is an especially appropriate resource for "teaching the future" to students at all levels.
Author Dr. Ruth L. Miller has degrees in anthropology, cybernetics, environmental studies and systems sciences, is the director of Gaia Living Systems Institute, and offers webinars on sustainable culture featuring content in the book. She has authored a variety of articles in professional futures journals.