[#4 — Workshop] Future modeling

Speculative Futures Paris
6 min readMar 1, 2022

Last February, 9th, Speculative Futures Paris welcomed our berliner friends from Knoweaux Applied Futures, Amrei Andrasch and Manuel Funk, with whom we ran an introductory Strategic Time Traveling workshop to their Future Modeling approach, focusing on a key theme for our post-Covid societies: travelling for leisure.

Time traveling for strategic thinking: creating desirable futures

Future Modeling is a standardized framework that can be applied to any topic or industry, combining years of exploration and experimentation with strategic foresight, futures thinking and design-led approach to envision new opportunities for services, products and experiences innovation as well as strategy definition.

Future Modeling — Knoweaux Applied Futures

“Obviously we can not predict futures. Nobody can do this.
But we all can imagine and anticipate future markets and societies.”
Amrei Andrasch & Carl Manuel Funk

Organizations are traditionally facing a critical application gap between future strategies and their translation into innovative services and products.

Future Modeling — Knoweaux Applied Futures

Designed as an experience-based learning tool to develop both organizational future readiness and future thinking capabilities, Future Modeling articulates three key steps:

  1. Future quo: this phase aims at downloading existing assumptions, images, collecting signals and drivers as well as barriers we anticipate about the future we’re looking at ;
  2. Desirable Futures: the intent is not only to co-create future scenarios through “What if?” triggers and in a systemic approach but also to evaluate their future readiness level for short-term application by scanning future DNA building blocks from which they are built from and to define a compass to stress test your vision and anticipate potential implications for your organization ;
  3. Future Strategy: a key step to backcast to present time and “apply futures” to your strategy roadmap or innovation portfolio and ensure activation.
Future Modeling Framework — Knoweaux Applied Futures

Apart from inviting our (international!) community of future thinkers to play with a new tool (see our results below), our workshop was also the opportunity to discuss collectively compared benefits of Future Modeling with other future-related approaches and methodologies such as Strategic Foresight, Speculative Design and Design Fiction but also Design Thinking. The following analysis is a synthesis of how we can discuss its founding principles:

  • standardized to scale process to any organization
  • visionary to define long-term strategies up to 15 years ahead
  • participatory to allow collective intelligence and open collaboration from any level involved in the decision-making process
  • systemic to integrate a broader perspective on future changes
  • desirable to focus on the bright side of futures
  • applied to bridge the application gap when thinking strategically about the future
Future Modeling Framework — Knoweaux Applied Futures

Time traveling for resilience: developing future readiness capabilities and ensuring application

Future Modeling is also a powerful tool to leverage organizational future readiness, to develop capabilities to play with desirable futures and in fine contribute to identify resilient pathways.

“The way you approach the present isn’t just determined by the way you approach the past, but by the way you approach the future. The richer conception of the future you have, the richer your life in the present becomes.”
Ken Wilber,
Integrating the future (2013)

In period of paradigm shifts, we need to train our ability of cognitive time travel to be able to keep up with technological prospections of the future and to define a future compass and climb up the futuring levels as defined by Scott Smith and Madeline Ashby in How to future: Leading and Sense-Making in an Age of Hyperchange (2020).

Levels of futuring — Scott Smith & Madeline Ashby, How to future: Leading and Sense-Making in an Age of Hyperchange (2020)

Based on scientific research and inspired by visionary companies, Knoweaux defined 9 core principles of future ready organizations (see below) that engage both individual and collective scales.

What will the future of travel look like in 2035?

Illustration : Annabel Roux

“The essence of leisure is not to assure that we may function smoothly but rather to assure that we, embedded in our social function, are enabled to remain fully human.”
Josef Pieper, Leisure, The Basis of Culture (2008)

For our workshop, we decided to facilitate a Strategic Time Travel to introduce the framework and offer an overview of the approach by focusing first on future images, signals and drivers and barriers and then to brainstorm on different “what if”.

With around 25 participants, we defined the future quo around future of traveling, with dozens of future images that should be “download” to build desirable futures.

Participants from all over the world!

Participants shared ideas around psychedelic experiences, metaverse travels, agro-tourism and eco-friendly escapes and also leveraged weak signals around carbon footprint travel cards, micro-adventures or slow travel. From that perspective, we guided them through sharing their 3 most desirable and utopian “What if’s” that we captured into the following “Futurecatcher”.

Graphics : Annabel Roux

We decided to focus on 3 different futures that captured our attention:

  • What if travelling is actually winning the lottery?
  • What if we could travel into our souvenirs or send virtual memories?
  • What if travelling was allowed as a method of healing and could be legally prescribed by physicians?
Illustration: Pierre Cloarec
Illustration: Pierre Cloarec
Illustration: Pierre Cloarec

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Speculative Futures Paris

On a mission to empower communities of future thinkers around speculative design, design fiction, critical foresight and experiential futures