foresight

What’s Next versus What’s Valuable: Perspectives on the Value of Ethnography in a Future-Focused World

by LOUISE VANG JENSEN & LEA MøLLER SVENDSEN, IS IT A BIRD A framework for ethnography and futures work that expands our understanding of the nature of change Ethnographers operating in the future-focused context of business consultancy face a core challenge. Our approach is holistic and human-centric, “based on the researcher sharing time and space with the people he or she wants to understand, establishing relationships with them and thereby experiencing life from their perspective” (Kirsten Hastrup et.al: Ind i verden, 2010). Our clients want to stay relevant in the future. They want us to predict future behaviours, aspirations and dreams; to demonstrate what will change, what will disrupt and how people will be different. We’re often confronted with the perception that ethnography is a toolkit limited to exploring present worlds, and therefore holding limited value to futures work and business strategies. This notion relies on a somewhat sci-fi view of the future as something disconnected from the now. As something...

How New is the New? Reflecting on How to Design for Tomorrow through the Case of Autonomous Vehicles

How New is the New?
An EPIC2021 Sponsored Panel by Waymo Moderator: MELISSA CEFKIN (Waymo) Panelists: BENEDIKT FISCHER (Waymo), LAURA FORLANO (IIT Institute of Design), JACK STILGOE (University College London) How do we anticipate the futures of the things we are bringing into the world, and the experiences they will help shape? The autonomous vehicle is posited as a net-new innovation. Never before have vehicles without human drivers at the helm roamed the same streets that we traverse daily while on a jog or in a bleary-eyed morning search for a cuppa-joe. Someday soon(ish) you may hail a fully autonomous ride for a trip to the office or for the once-in-a-lifetime race to the hospital for the birth of a first born. What a fantastically new product and world this will be! Or will it? How much are innovators tweaking and updating the existing, instead of inventing the new? Join us for a conversation between members of the Waymo Insights team and invited panelists to explore “how new is the new?” Following decades of imagination, development,...

The Future of Business in a Post-COVID Landscape

The future of business in a post-COVID world
Moderator: MARC LAFLEUR, ZS Associates Panelists: JACQUES BARCIA, Institute for the Future; JORGE CAMACHO, Institute for the Future / Diagonal; JENNIFER LEE FUQUA, Ogilvy; DEVON POWERS, Temple University Events of the 18 months have upended questions of the future and, for business, cast a new light on how it might better contemplate and plan for uncertainties. COVID has also opened up a new sense of potential when it comes to re-inventing or designing better or new futures for ourselves, providing a sense of agency and fluidity that had, until recently, seemed less tangible. This panel will engage in this dialogue with the future, particularly as it relates to the future of business and the ways in which business could contemplate, confront and shape the future. Panelists Marc LaFleur believes that at the heart of every business challenge lies a question of human experience. While he has practiced in many industries, Marc has spent much of his career working in the fields of health and life sciences. There, Marc...

Catching up to the Present to Reimagine the Future

Catching up to the Present to Imagine the Future
Moderator: AFRA CHEN, Fudan University Panelists: CHUMA ANAGBADO, Artist & Designer; NATASCHA NANJI, LAY IT ON THICK; RASA SMITE, RIXC Center for New Media Culture; RAITIS SMITS, RIXC Center for New Media Culture In the age of pandemics and climate crises, reality is represented via varied narratives on health, politics, and the environment across different cultural and social contexts. As artists, designers, and ethnographers practicing the art of narration within different specialties and contexts, this panel aims to showcase how creative professionals re-organize their methods, practices, relationships, and lives in the face of present circumstances. Panelists will share how art and design can help us reflect upon the present and address any future challenges. Panelists Afra Chen is a PhD candidate in medical anthropology from Fudan university, her research interests mainly centered around medical/biological technologies and how do they intersects with societal changes in China, her recent research focused...

Tutorial: Designing Ethnofutures Research Projects

Designing Ethnofutures Research Projects
Instructors: ROD FALCON, (Director, Technology Futures Lab, Institute for the Future), LYN JEFFERY (Director, IFTF Foresight Essentials) & VANESSA MASON (Research Director, Institute for the Future) Learn how to design ethnofutures research projects and expand the time horizons of your work. Overview This tutorial was conducted at EPIC2021. Exercises and discussions have been omitted to protect the privacy of participants. How do you take ethnographic data from today and turn it into futures forecasts, scenarios, personas, and stories about how the world could be different in ten years? How do you define a “futures” research domain, develop an ethnofutures interview process, and scope the right people to interview? And once you have your data, how do you use it to develop an informed, provocative view of the long-term future? Researchers leaders from the Institute for the Future (IFTF), a 50+ year nonprofit futures research group, will unpack the structure of an ethnofutures project, which translates ethnographic...

Practicing Foresight in China—A Public Event Hosted by EPIC China

Foresight: a conversation with Martha Cotton (Accenture/Fjord) & Rui Rao (Tencent), hosted by EPIC China

How do businesses and organizations anticipate the future in China and the United States? Join a conversation with Martha Cotton (Accenture/Fjord) & Rui Rao (Tencent), hosted by EPIC China! Friday, August 27, 6:30–8:00 pm US Pacific Time / Saturday, August 28, 9:30–11:00 am China Standard Time REGISTER NOW Join Martha Cotton (Managing Director with Accenture…

Best Laid Plans…An Ethnographic Approach to Foresight

by STEWART ALLEN, MindSpark With an ethnographic lens on foresight and planning, we can see how futures unfold through people's daily journeys of anticipation and improvisation. What is Foresight? Foresight is an umbrella term used to describe a wide variety of methodologies and approaches for considering and preparing for possible and probable futures in order to help inform present and future courses of action. Today, it is an important and widely deployed practice that has developed in a variety of fields, from public policy such as state and town planning, to technology and R&D, and more recently strategic and financial approaches in business fields to help ensure the long-term survival and success of companies. Many of the approaches that come under the umbrella of foresight blend into one another. The majority of approaches to foresight typically employ pre-defined categories in their analysis – identifying trends in the social, technological, economic, and political spheres and extrapolating these using various...

Scaling Futures: Foresight that Delivers Meaning and Value

RICH RADKA, Chair Fuse Foresight WENDY CHAMBERLIN BOMA Project GEMMA JOHN Human City RAMESH LOGANATHAN IIIT Hyderabad This panel explores the specific reasons organizations generate ideas about the future, the methods they choose, how they act on foresight, and consequences for both business and society. Panelists address the theme of scale in various dimensions, such as how to appropriately scale our imaginings, scaling to multiple time horizons, scaling breadth vs. depth of focus, and thinking of scale in terms of organizational value creation. Panelists Rich Radka has 20+ years of providing deep human insights to corporate, scale-up and public sector clients in the arenas of  innovation, customer experience, strategy and forecasting. He brings inspired design thinking, and a practical human-centred approach to co-create solutions that involve customers, employees, partners and other stakeholders.Wendy Chamberlin serves as the Global Program Director for the BOMA Project, a livelihood development...

Tutorial: Calibrating Ethnofutures

J.A. ENGLISH-LUECK San Jose State University ROD FALCON Institute for the Future ANDREW MARLEY San Jose State University Overview This tutorial introduces Ethnofutures to ethnographers who want to integrate forecasting methods and tools into their current professional practices. The goal is to translate ethnographic material into imaginative, but grounded, scenarios of their future users, services, and products. Practitioners, such as designers and business strategists, must imagine futures based on existing signals of change. Those signals can come from the activities of individuals, the organizations in which they work, as well as the larger social events around them. The forces fomenting change can be highly localized, such as a specific municipal policy on gig workers or also be global in scope, pointing to the role of gig work as a facet of contemporary transnational capitalism. Moreover, the future itself is scalable: Organizations toggle between data-rich forecasts that extend less than a year, to more speculative...

The Future Is Yours

DONNA K. FLYNN Vice President of WorkSpace Futures, Steelcase EPIC2018 Keynote Address Donna Flynn is Vice President of WorkSpace Futures and Market Insights at Steelcase. She leads a global team of researchers that delve into wicked problems around the future of work and translate those insights to inform the design of strategies, products, and services. Flynn joined Steelcase in 2011 from Microsoft, where she held a number of user experience leadership roles in product groups focused on mobility, healthcare, and consumer strategy. Prior to Microsoft, she led client projects for Sapient in San Francisco, working with technology and telecommunications clients such as Cisco Systems, Sun Microsystems, and Sprint. Earlier in her career she worked on international development and microfinance with the International Center for Research on Women, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the World Bank. Flynn received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Northwestern University in 1997. She has been a leader in the EPIC...

Embed: Mapping the Future of Work and Play: A Case for “Embedding” Non-Ethnographers in the Field

ANDREW GREENMAN and SCOTT SMITH This paper reflects on an experiment to combine an “ethnographic walking tour” with futures and foresight methods, as a means of enhancing and validating foresight exercises through the addition of valuable first-hand observation. The project, entitled Embed, was created to familiarize senior strategists, product developers, foresight specialists and marketers with the potential of ethnographic research to inform decision making. We introduce the concept of “embedding” to describe the process of placing non-ethnographers into fieldwork situations. We then reflect on the opportunities and limitations of creating spaces for embedding non-experts in such settings. In the recommendations, we summarize the experience from a practical as well as theoretical perspective. The paper raises two questions related to the spatialization of commercial ethnographic knowledge; first, the value of using “embedding” to extend the territory of ethnography to a wider audience. Second, what this experience reveals...