What is Strategic Foresight and how can it benefit service designers?

We are excited to share the full recording of the one-hour conversation with Pascal Wicht, a strategic design consultant and founder of Whispers & Giants. During the session, Pascal introduced the concept of Strategic Foresight and how Service Design practitioners can benefit from it. The webinar was followed by a Q&A session where participants asked questions.

Rewatch the full webinar or watch selected clips below

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Recommended resources

Pascal shared a few books that will help you explore the topic of Strategic Foresight in more depth.

Transcript


Today we are here for an event, which is called Strategic Foresight for Service Design. And it's with my mate Pascal. And why are we doing these types of events and what is this? Service design network thing. And what does it do for you? Basically it's very simple.


The service design network is here to help you with events, jobs, and knowledge. But let's dive a little bit more into that. So the first thing it. It helps you maybe hopefully to find your next job. So we have a discussion board where we kind of try to track every new service design job that's happening in Switzerland, which is always good.


If you want to come to Switzerland and eat some good chocolate. That's always a good way to eat the chocolate. And you see there a few of the companies that we already trac jobs from, which are related to service design. That's one thing we do. We also help you meet other service design nerds at events.


And, you know, maybe, who knows, you might find the love of your life also. That's not a promise, Sam. You see it, it's in the fine print. We can't promise that, but we can promise that you'll meet some nerdy people, some strange people like Pascal and me. That's for sure. And one thing that we try also to do as, especially with events like today, is also to help you grow your knowledge and your expertise.


And again, not a promise, but it could happen, is that it 


helps you to 


show up doing dinner projects. Which is always also something which is quite nice. So that's basically what we're trying to do with the service design network here in Switzerland. And obviously if you want to know more about the the coming events we have also a few reports and content.


You can just Google SD and Switzerland and that you'll be good to go. That's it for a bit of the introduction, and now I'm very excited to start with you on the topic of strategic foresight for service design. And you'll see, we'll try 


to cover these 


few questions, but as Pascal is a good old friend it's gonna be basically like a conversation in the bar.


We'll start somewhere and we don't know where we will end up. And that's perfectly okay for us. So let me show you our dear Pascal. So Pascal, I told you already welcome before, but I think it's again, a good time to thank you so much for the time that you're spending tonight for the community.


I'm extremely happy for that. I'm grateful for that. And yeah, I'm excited about the 


conversation. Thanks, man. Before we start, maybe. Can you share a bit, you know, who, who are. So thanks. I'm very happy to, to spend some time with you and the audience. So I'm Swiss. I'm from the French side of Switzerland.


I have a few years of design behind me almost 30 years. It's been a while, and in my career I have started as a graphic re design. Started then UX branding. And as I went along with my career, I worked more and more into advising clients and working really upstream of design groups. What should we do?


How should we do it? Why should we do it? And it's how I started since I would say 2005, 2006. Practicing foresight, strategic foresight, and trying to think about change. Trying to think about the future. And that's how I'm here today. Talk about that. I call myself a strategic designer today, meaning I work really, like I said, a stream of design groups.


I mix different methods and disciplines in order to make sense of problems, explore different issues, what should be the company or the client thinking about for tomorrow. Mm-hmm. And I tend to do this from a very qualitative field research perspective. So that's a bit who I am. Mm-hmm. I currently work in a very big company, very secret.


I don't wanna say too much, but I work in the B2 G so I work a lot with government and I'm quite happy to, to do this with you. It's nice. Thanks, man. Thank you so much. 


I, I, I like how we already have a glimpse of Switzerland in, in, in this, you know, like big. Government, you know, secretive at the same time, but at the same time, also this very just lovely aspect of qualitative aspect aspects.


Yeah. 


One thing about my life is that I, I've spent since I'm four years old, a lot of time in Africa, and that has really, I would say, defined my perspective on the world. I grew up surrounded by. Political activists refugees deserters people who refused to do the army in South Africa. So very early.


My political imaginaries, without knowing it, were structured by images like Mandela, Palestine and colonization. And I, I realized that very late in my life that I wasn't like other kids. Mm-hmm. And that I had grown up with these ideas. And I spend quite a lot of time in Asia as well. Mm-hmm. My wife is from Vietnam.


I live with a lot of Vietnamese, so I'm, I've always been in different cultures. Now I live with three generations at home and I think there's a strong sense of anthropology somehow in my life. And we, we'll see even discussion, but that aspect of, of going into the field and trying to. Articulate my thinking to what is actually happening in front of me rather than relying on data or, or quantitative aspects of research has always been a key issue for me.


So that's a little bit my way of doing design. Thank you. 


I think people will be excited to, to, to chat even more on LinkedIn or somewhere else where they will find you and there is much more weirdness to discover about you because I will just. Throw a few of the things, but you know, Pascal is one of the, of the per of the few person that also know what it is to live in a family where there are pastors.


Mm-hmm. So that's also kind of a bit of a weird background. Yes. Being in Swiss villages and in Africa, I think that's also brings a lot of of of special aspects. You have the vo accents that you can really use well. So a lot of weirdness. But we will focus on one weird aspect that I like about you is this strategic foresight thing.


Yes. And maybe the, the the first question, you know, that, that I had in the past. Well, yeah. Like, what the fuck is it? 


Yeah, sure. It's a weird thing. I'll start with the foresight part and I'll add the strategic. So it's part of a, I would say a, a set of disciplines that we call future studies. When future studies in general is how do we think about the future and what does it mean for us?


So you will have elements of prospective psychology. How do human beings think about the future? For example we're very bad at predicting how we would react emotionally to events in the future. Mm-hmm. It's called affect forecasting. We we're terrible at that. Okay. We also tend as humans to.


When you think about ourselves in the future, we don't really have a sense of continuity. We imagine ourselves in the future being really different. We achieve so many different things and we'll have this and that. And that is a psychological bias that almost a cognitive bias, let's say, that makes us do a lot of short term choices.


Cause we have such a disconnect with the future. Whereas if you look at businesses, they have a strong sense of continuity. It will remain the same. Okay. So our relationship with the future is not something that we learn in school. It's not something that our parents teach us. Mm-hmm. So at the heart of foresight and future studies is really the idea of long-term thinking and opening up the possibilities about the future and learning that takes a few cognitive adjustments.


Mm-hmm. Because by default you don't know how to do it when you need a few methods. Yeah. And I would say it takes a few years to really get a sense of, hmm, three years ago I imagined this, this is how the future played out. I wasn't so far there was completely wrong. Mm. So becoming a futurist takes time.


It's not something out of nowhere. We, we just have a few methods, like a five step ideal magic sauce. Yes. And then new designer. Being a a a futurist takes time. Now the strategic part is how do you plug that way of thinking to a business in order to shape decisions? So how do you think about the future and then bring it back?


If we wanna make a critique of strategic foresight, which is a discipline that a lot of people will encounter in sort of team building workshops, it's fun. They think about the future, throwing some technologies and imagine the future, but there is no. Structured framework to bring those insights back into the present and impact, what are we going to do tomorrow?


Yeah, okay. So that's the strategic part. And strategic foresight will be something that customers may request from an external partner that to guide them and walk them along that path. But I would say it should be a core business function within the strategic. Office a board, something that the company is doing on, on, on themselves, that's much better.


So a future is shouldn't just be giving a, a fancy talk to, you know, kickstart a, a, a workshop or an offsite retreat at some time. A company should have that capability inside. It's much better. And That aspect of what do we do and when do we redo the exercise? Just start thinking, okay, how are things evolving?


Maybe at large just started the price of energy just might up the, we might have a terrible summer. We don't know. So I would say strategic ForSight will really help companies address the notion of change and how to behave and position yourself. With the idea that the future will change, the future will be different, and how do we navigate that?


It's a little bit hard. Great. Okay. Thanks so much. I, 


I, for me, there is one thing that I really like in your explanation is that it's not just thinking about the future for businesses, but also helping people think differently. For the future in general. Yeah. And and there is one thing that I learned from you, which is you always use the 


word future in plural 


form.


Yes. And, and, and there, there is something interesting to me, which 


when I bring it back, 


you know, to parents asking a kid, you know, what do you want to be in the, in the future when you will be big? And usually what we expect is one answer, you know? And I think we're. My understanding of the, the foresight guy, he will not ask, what do you want to be his, but it is more like what are the possible jobs you could do in the future or that you'd like to work on or that you imagine you could 


do?


Is it a bit, this change that happens? So that's brilliant. You really got it. The number one thing you want to do when you're thinking about the future is to escape what we call the mono future. Okay? This idea of a linear future that unfolds ahead of you, that you will walk into there is this continuity.


Okay? And that has many implications because, Adding an S to futures mm-hmm. Is where everything should be different. So a customer will, will ask you, I wanna do strategic foresight, and then you show up with like six, seven different possible futures and they will go, oh, no, no, no, no. That's not what I wanted.


I want you to tell me what will happen. And that's the second thing about futurist is that we do not provide predictions. Okay. So For example, in, in French, we have ology. Mm-hmm. Theology is in science and study of how our system will collapse. Yeah. And for a futurist, that is a, a no goal. We can't compute that because methodologically or be ontologically, we cannot have only one future.


No. Okay. And. This notion that the future will unfold in, in a very specific way, cannot be taken into account. We wanna have a range of possible future, okay? But it's not always easy to escape this idea that the future will be more technology, more progress better linear going forward, and that is so strong in the way we think about the future.


I always tell my students, you cannot find the future on Unsplash. It doesn't exist. It looks like the past. It is the past. Even if you ask an AI mid journey mm-hmm. To imagine what the future could be, it's struggle. Images will be blurry because it doesn't know what should I take into account, where are my references?


So that's where we wanna go. And then think about the future. And it's very difficult for a company to escape the idea of predictions and the idea of, I would say techno driven consumer insights with the scope of three to six months. That's not strategic for this consumer insight. So it's always very important as a futurist, when you're requested to do, do you really want to open up and think how might tomorrow be different?


Okay, and what if tomorrow there's something key about your business? It's gone. You know, some customers will tell you, but that's not possible. Say, okay, try to remember how fast you remove CDs out of your life. How long did it take for you to phase out CDs? And some people will tell you, oh, I'm here. Well, that could be your industry.


What would happen? What would you do? How would you reimagine what you're good at in the future? Where you're good at something but you don't do it in the same way? That's the basic of a, of a foresight approach to a business strategy. So if you take a business model canvas, you have nine blocks, you could say, just change one block.


That one is gone. What could be different? That's sort of the approach we ask the future. Thank you. 


Like it, because for me it reminds me, you know, like how in services anymore, where we say often we say, oh, we are gonna prototype, you know, and like the worst thing is to make one prototype. Yeah. Because we say, but then how do we compare?


You know? Mm-hmm. And then we often say, Hey, it's interesting to have. Three, four very weird and different ideas that we can prototype to see in the extremes where it's interesting. So I, I feel there is this notion of, okay, we are gonna explore, prototype, 


the future in some way, you know, but what I'm asking now 


is for me is, okay, I could imagine like say thinking, oh, this is one future that is possible.


Very optimistic. Maybe one which is less optimistic, one which is extremely weird 


and special. But then 


how. Do I make a strategy out of that for a business? You know, like it's so different. Mm-hmm. So how do I take it back from, okay, this could happen, and how do I then select, oh what do I do now? How do I adapt today for these things that might happen.


So 


one key element of strategic foresight, maybe three, but they're related, is the idea of horizon scanning. Mm-hmm. When you try to detect early signs of change or what you call weak signals, and then you're gonna take those weak signals, they might not really seem related directly to your core business.


Okay? But what you're going to do is you're going to amplify them just like an audio engineer. Mm-hmm. Amplify that signal and imagine what would be in five years, this small signal. What would happen if this. Would become dominant. So for example, in 2004 I saw a photo of an Asian lady holding self esteem.


That was the first self esteem I saw. And she would, she had a digital camera and I thought, oh, that's very interesting. What could happen if this behavior became dominant. So then to answer your question, what, what you wanna do here is early detection. Early imagination, an early adaptation, early reaction.


Now how to do it would be very different for each type of company. Yeah. Strategic ForSight requires some, I would say, consulting maturity in order to plug it to, to your customer because. A lot of old men don't like to be told that things could be different, especially two, three years before they retire.


Common problem. Yeah. So the how can be very different, but there are a few methodological frameworks, but the easiest way is trying to make it visible, tangible. You can just role play really the easiest way. Okay. Let's imagine how would our company deliver what we do today? In that work? What would change?


And just start with a basic role play. We can go to Lego. Mm-hmm. Today we have ai. It's just amazing to, to prototype things. Mm-hmm. But there, there's a lot of creativity on the side of the designer to imagine what would be the best experience for my customer. To fully grasp those insights and, and bring them in and start thinking about it.


It will never work in a one afternoon workshop. Yeah. People have to sleep on it, digest it. You need to show them different I would say evidence. Mm-hmm. You need to bring different sensorial aspects of the experience. Show them objects so that they can start composing this new possible future because, If on one side we are very bad at projecting ourselves in the future, we still are very good at time traveling.


Mm-hmm. It's something we know how to do. Mm-hmm. And there are techniques where you can try to project yourself in the future and try to imagine how does it feel? Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. You know, how, how do you. How do you experience that future now? One very key aspect and, and I just wanna catch something that you say positive, less positive future.


I often say that positive futures have collapsed. You can ask people around you, when was the last time that you read a book, watched a movie, watched a series, played a game set in a utopian positive future where you would say, Oh my God. I want me and my kids and my grandkids to live in that future.


Mm-hmm. Usually people can't answer me. If you ask, what was the last dystopian thing you saw? They have so much example of the people, and that is a key aspect of our relationship with the future, is that we are using forecasting foresight. Mm-hmm. As a way of criticizing the present. Hmm. Whereas it, it's interesting, but it's a little bit, you know, the snake eating its own tail because it doesn't produce any concrete transformation.


You the Marxist, I don't wanna go there, but we need to leverage our ability to use foresight and, and pains in people's mind futures where they would go like, interesting. Mm-hmm. Okay. Now, Maybe for businesses it's more difficult because in a, in a business environment, the question of the future tends to be limited to technology.


Yeah. And so the, the bias of technological determinism is very strong. There's a strong neoliberal belief that technology drives progress. Mm-hmm. And people lack the ability to even name social phenomenon. Mm-hmm. And I see this with designers as well. You do social innovation programs, you send designers looking at a situation, investigate, inquire, and because they lack a few basic tools about sociology and anthropology, they are blind to the social situation, so they only see problems to solve this technology.


The worst is desirability, consumer preference feasibility, technological determinism. And viability, you know, will survive in the market. And you already have those mm-hmm. You know, goggles and you're stuck. So if you wanna open up the future and, and think how could the future be different, you need to also free yourself and part of your design, say toolbox for certain, from certain assumptions that will help you really well to help a client solve a, a business problem.


But if you zoom out and you look at site, Different generations, different cultures, different times time scales. Maybe looking at the world only with the glasses of a merchant might not help you. Okay? We will fail at understanding how, how society changes. Okay. 


I think it's extremely interesting because you're giving us here already one of the rules of thumbs.


You know, I, you know, that I, I really love this very simple ideas where, you know, for example, in business where you say, Hey, put your, your money in two different envelopes, you know, family stuff in one business, stuff in the other basic idea. But if you apply very well, it saves a lot of of problems, you know, and.


Here you're touching one, which is one of the principles that I hear from you is one, which is, don't look at the world or just from the PR prism 


of business. Mm. Will there be other 


such simple rules that you would tell to service design you, Hey, these are things 


that would help you to slowly get more into a 


strategic foresight mindset, like tiny changes, 


you know, like, oh.


If you do that, this would help you to think a bit more 


like a strategy 


designer. I would say mainly diversify your sources of information about the world. Mm-hmm. And start collecting signals. That's the number one thing I would, I would recommend people, is to be. Patient dedicated archivists and, and have a database, have a, you know, like raindrop and motion, but use something where you can pull out your data and look at it again, connect things.


Mm-hmm. And be able to rely on something meaningful for your research. Because if you always start from scratch, It's hard that, that would be the, the first thing is you need to have an, an organized process for managing signals. Okay. And, and where do I get these signals? Oh it's, it's very interesting.


You, you will have signals from everywhere. Okay? So you go to, to a dinner party and someone tells you something. We capture. You can go online and we use media. It can be journalism and do documentaries. But I would say don't only rely on data coming from the internet. Okay. Rely on what people write in books.


That helps a lot. And then if you understand design, research, observe people, try to make sense of how people do things differently. Pay attention to young people, new behaviors, be in this mode of. Being attentive to the world. And then try, I would say, try and thinking about the future requires to understand maybe how people in China relates to technology, how people in Africa relates to the mobile, how people in a third world country will use cash.


Mm-hmm. Because you need to nourish your, your ability to think about social phenomenons, their interactions with technology. And how things change. And then another thing you can do is start to write down your assumptions about the future and go back to it after one year, after two years. And if you do this for 10 years, you sharpen your ability not to make predictions, but really good bets.


Okay, that helps a lot. But first I would say remember if you have only one future, you the track, you probably. Living in someone else's future, you say it's not yours and it's often this very idealistic, you know, future cities, skyscrapers, flying cars, everybody, almost eternal, no work robots. This is a very outdated view of the future.


And you would be then able to spot in maybe video games or. A movie like black Panther. Mm-hmm. Wakanda has a city. Mm-hmm. And it's a very interesting urban concept. There's, there's things, there's the real I would say ideas about how a city could be different. And you can start, you know, writing down what you observe, how you feel about it, what it means for you.


So a, a, a future is documents and connects things a lot. That that's a key principle. It reminds me, you know what? You said you were a graphic designer before? Yeah, I still am 


in my heart and, and I was too. And you know, in graphic design we had this thing where we collect, you know, there is a big collection thing.


Oh, this logo. I love it. Oh, this font. I love inspiration. Yeah, inspiration boards, you know, and you create to create a mood board. So it feels to me it has a bit, this curiosity, you know, of whatever I'm seeing could be a signal. And especially if it's not just something from the internet it's a conversation.


It's a weird observation I make in the train from listening to a conversation between to teenagers and, oh, wow, this is interesting how they, yeah. Try to solve the problem in that way. Okay. That's interesting. And, and I really like this idea of testing yourself, you know, and getting in the habit, in the habit of, oh, I can already be a strategic foresight guy by writing.


A few bets and basically send them to me, to myself in the future and then see, hey, oh, okay, now I received an email from myself in the past and was I wrong about how I thought this would happen? Or the possibilities. 


That's, 


that's pretty, and may I ask, I see we already have enough time, which is which is good because now I think.


The idea of what strategic foresight we slowly get there and I think people get a good idea of that's there are curious people in that room. And 


we have some books here. Yeah. Could you just point, maybe one of two of the resources you, 


you said you said this idea that it's not just on the internet and 


yeah.


You brought books, which are 


the resources. That you would recommend to someone in service design? Curious enough? Can be books, can be people to follow can be 


things to do. So, yeah. When I started getting really interested in, in foresight, because I, we speak French, so I had LA prospective, which is the French version.


Yeah. And it's a bit more. Humanistic social asking, big test question, what is mobility tomorrow? What, what if skateboard would redefine bakery, you know, sort of creative questions. But there were, there were a few people that really inspired me. One of them was Noah now works at In Dubai. He's behind, I think, knew him at the future there.


And I, and I got into conversation a little bit with him, but his blog helped me a lot. And there was someone called Scott Smith who came up with the concept of flat back futures. So these, this idea of corporate videos showing us the future of everything we were, so, everybody's beautiful. There's holograms everywhere.


We can touch everything and information is available and anything he develops seamlessly. So he really developed this idea of critical foresight. We try to unpack a little bit the stories we tell ourselves in the business world about the future and how actually instead of orienting us or, or helping us navigate the future, we actually send us in the wrong direction.


Mm-hmm. And there are a few interesting people that, that we can find that. Scott Smith wrote a very nice book. I, I didn't take it, but I recommend it. He can't find it on his website to change his, I think it's a very nice intro. I would say at the intersection of foresight and design, there is the, the discipline of speculated design, which ha which you could do a whole podcast on, but that's maybe the book that everybody has on, on the topic.


It's, it's a 


good way. Speculative everything, design fiction and social breathing by Anthony 


and Fiona. It's Must have, I guess. And if you really like that, that's my Bible. This one is really the academic bible on, on critical thinking for, for futurists in, in speculative designers. 


Okay. So that's discursive design, critical speculative and alternative things by Bruce and Stephanie and 


yeah.


A lot of r and d labs. Tend to now request speculative prototyping. Okay. In order to create spaces within the company that, that open up this idea of the future. And people can manipulate, people can talk, people can, can envision, oh, that, that's very different. That, that is something I can touch. It makes me think of and open up.


Yeah. There are other books you know, and of cities that, for example, that's, that's a book I would recommend. If you think about different scales in design. Mm-hmm. We're not always into graphic design or, you know, form and function. Mm-hmm. Services and systems, but really high level. Mm-hmm.


Urban systems. Interesting concept helps you set the stage for your future scenarios. Okay. Helps you describe the society in which your service will take place. Mm-hmm. This one's really good. Lenu is the publisher, the Future Visionary, urban Architecture and Design. Great one. That is a bit nerdy, but.


A lot of people, I, I, I, I mentioned know ra, some people know . Mm-hmm. That's a hundred essays about the future. Yeah. So that's probably one of the most interesting collections of, of, you know, that's open up the scope. How, how could be the future difference. What could happen, this one will the future we deserve.


Yeah. The future will deserve. Tricky tied off. This one might be very interesting for solving designers. Very short method instead of tools to approach the future. Very easy to, to go through. Not too hard to access. And it's called the extrapolation Factory Operators manual. And it has English and Chinese, which is not only beautiful, but interesting.


Yeah. So a good 


starting point. Yeah. So we have a Bible, we have a good starting point. I 


want. Yeah, that's good. That's good. I didn't wanna take the usual books about methods. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. I'm sure you find them easily if you go on Amazon. Yeah, just Googles use Amazon to find the books and then order them from your local bookstore, please.


That one is in French. It's really about, you know, how this imagination is very personal. Mm-hmm. Imaginary, imaginary is more social, more collective. And this one is an interesting book on how to easily pull some lever to shape how we engage in interact in the future. And I would really recommend this one, which is a critique the scene in, in the.


Sort of visual grammar we use to represent the entine and mm-hmm. While we try to be critical of the entine mm-hmm. We end up reproducing everything that is exactly has explored. So that's a, that's a very good book, but very nerdy and very on the left. Yeah. We need to enjoy that type of stuff, but very critical and easy to read quite fast.


You. Thanks so much. That's a few books. 


I'll take a picture of it and we'll share it then with the audience, with a few links. And 


if people really want, like, give me methods mm-hmm. We can do 


that. That's good. That's good. We'll see that in the questions. And that brings me I see Frederica already has, puts links in the chat for, for the books.


So thank you so much for that. That's a, that's a really good job. And I would like now maybe you asking. If people want this, I can also share that. Maybe now is a good time to look a little bit more at what the community wants. So don't hesitate to now go in the chat and write your questions.


I'm gonna go back in the chat to see if there are questions. 


How many people do we have? So we have, right now, we have, let me check. We have. 20 people still. So we, we have some very how do you say that? 


Loyal. Loyal people, you know? Yeah. Started with 20 and still 20. So let me check if we have a few questions because that's, I, I, I always have tons, dozens of questions for you, but I think.


It's always lovely to have the questions from people and why we'll get there. One for, first question is, could we get the list via email? Yes. At the end I'll send a picture of all the books and stuff so that you can get it. So one question is what are your so faults on decolonizing design in relation to strategic foresight?


How can we envision diverse 


and 


deno futures of success? Wow, that's, Thank you to whoever wrote this. That's a key issue close to my heart. Obviously the way we think about the future is often perceived from the perspective of white straight dudes like me in the global north. The academic, I would say writing on this topic is to say if we ask indigenous people, In the global south about the future.


They laugh at us when we talk about dystopian, you know, collapse in negative futures because they say that's our present for the last five months. Okay. And I think there's a strong sense of humility here for us in, in privileged, you know, global north context of practicing design and. The most important aspect is how do we bring in the voice of people who are usually left out from the conversation.


Now, decolonizing doesn't necessarily require to go to Brazil, South Africa to do that. You have a lot of communities around you who are below the radar. So for example, I engage, I, I participate in a lot of innovation programs around business schools in academia, and they always suggest that students work for a big company and do innovation for free for them in the hope that they get money, job, or some sort of visibility.


If you take a decolonial lens, you'll say, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. There's no way that big corporations should leverage the ideas of, of people in school for free. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. What about we use design to solve problems that are below the radar. Mm. So there might be a business around the corner running by a family from Pakistan.


Mm-hmm. And the first thing would be, Not like show up and say, we wanna solve a problem. Engage in a conversation with them, understand what's important for them, bring them in the process and, and design with them. So I think that's, that's what I said about the merchant classes. Mm-hmm. We tend to overthink.


How do we respond to the market? How do we please shareholders? How do we make ourselves look good to businesses? Because we want work? Cause we know we are on a job market. We know it's a capitalist, you know, scheme. But as designers, we have the ability to shift our priorities a little bit and invite stakeholders to say, Hey, you know, a lot of people struggling just around us.


Mm-hmm. Can we rebalance the way we approach? Just teaching innovation. Why should big corporation get all this free? Shouldn't this go somewhere else? Shouldn't we have a small ngo? Shouldn't we help a small business owned by, I don't know, the Albanian community? And that is really close to my heart.


I, I, I try to, to always bring that lens, but it's not always, But that's fundamental. That, that's really a very valid question. Very interesting question. And I think that the more we find the ways to do it in a, in a creative way, it doesn't have to be a revolutionary activist, you know, in your face, we know the kind of reaction it triggered, but.


Start to know, pivot a little bit and show that design is able to apprehend situations differently and that you wanna do social innovation, let's do it. So that's how I would answer. Then on your free time go to the, what we call the global south. Really go, I, I, I left home when I was 17. I went to South Africa in, and I changed my life.


Mm-hmm. And then, What is fundamental here from a, a future study perspective is to engage with people who have a fundamentally different perspective of the future. Yeah. In Africa, the future is very different. Mm-hmm. It's not that it doesn't exist, but it's shaped by a completely different paradigms. Yeah.


So in Asia will be different and, and Then you will learn more about how your perception of the future is shaped. For example in French speaking people, we have two words for the future, which is unique. Mm. We have the fu, which is two different things. The fu future comes from the Latin word to be.


Mm-hmm. So in French says in mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. It's the same as future. So we say, let's de that. The present conjugates the future. So there's a direct sort of word connection. Lani is it's deeper, more like new. Mm-hmm. Archetypes, beasts and dragons and, and, you know, creatures. And then you can start building on the interaction between the two.


Whereas the future is constantly actualizing the present as a complex system. And then lair is sort of this imaginary beast at the back that you take for granted. And, and there's a lot of unpacking to do there. And if you travel, if you go to other really outside of the west, it will shape your perspective of the future in many ways.


And, and you, you really have to be humble. 


Basically two things. One is it starts at home. It doesn't have to be something that 


you need to go somewhere else to make it happen, 


but then on your free time go out. So it's kind of interesting is 


go home, start home, start home, go 


out. Yeah. That's amazing.


Yeah. Cool. Thanks. We have Sophia who says, you mentioned AI to Prototype Futures. Can you 


tell us 


more about. How, and in what type of scenarios do you do this and how do you do you and the rest of 


the team use these prototypes during the process? Good question. So this is fairly new. Mm-hmm. I think chat g PT to, to be on, on the most popular version, he's very good at generating ideas.


He's very good at computing things and. As a futurist, it's very important to add in your prompt. Please add none these ideas. Please suggest what you believe I might have missed. Okay. Because we tend to think that we know what we know. I would say you don't know what you don't know. So champ can be a very good tool to fast track the generation.


In foresight, we work a lot of uncertainties. So you're given two uncertainties. I give you two by two metrics, very basic. Mm-hmm. That's, that's the level one white belt scenario approach. But a, an AI will will do this so fast, so quickly. And the other way to use it is visually with I use mid journey is to.


Use what comes out of chat, g p t and cross reference with your maybe your signals and maybe other things that you have started crafting images that can reveal where you wanna, you know, go with the scenario. But I would, I would say do not use the AI to, to like do it for Loop, but the AI will help you generate and fast track and.


It's so powerful. And then as you know things happen by mistake. Mm-hmm. Sometimes they're very interesting. But I would say an AI is very good at making sure that you have a good literature review on certain key topics in that you do not forget some of the key aspects that are shaping your scenarios, especially on the social dimension.


You can really ask the AI. To reveal what is missing in your, in your approach. I use it to, to like shift some light on my dead angle. Add what you seen, obvious that I might have forgotten. Mm-hmm. That is really helpful. Challenge. 


It's, we had this conversation just before 


we started, but I think something that, what I found interesting is your way to also have a conversation 


about this future with, with 


GT one, another two.


I like how you 


maybe can you elaborate on that element of, oh, it's not just one prompt and it's done, but that you basically 


have it as a partner to improve, go 


further. So it's not the. I do version one of my prototype and it's 


my prototype. That's good. One thing you can do when you work with chat g PT is to say, before your output, your answer, can you tell me what you understand about my request?


And then you will see how the AI actually understands what you want. Oh my God. I'm missing this, or you didn't understand that, or It's interesting that you go there. So it's really a conversation with ai and even in generating images, it's a conversation. What happens if I do that? What happens if I bring this reference?


Oh, why? How change the light, change the reference. Sometimes saying that it happens in a city in Switzerland, or it happens in a city in Africa, the image is fundamentally different. Something else happens. But like, like I said before, the AI has trouble. For example, if you want to create a car free city mm-hmm.


Good luck with that. It doesn't know it. Mm. And if you ride no cars, the car is so emphasized. Even the cars everywhere. It's like when you, in the first version of Mid Journey, you say, With anatomically correct fingers and there were fingers everywhere it stayed. It's, it's not so relevant sometimes. So you need to find lateral ways of going where you want to go to, to, because very often you know where you want to go, which you want to create, and it's all about how to shape the prompts in order to reach what you want.


So chat gt. I think


it's very useful to bring in your research, all your notes together, and, and ask it, what am I trying to do here? What is happening here? Help me make sense of all this data. Can you categorize everything I gave you? Then it clusters it, that that's really helpful. And then you say, okay, we made this sort of affinity sorting.


Mm-hmm. Could you do it in a different way? Mm-hmm. So it's, it's really helping me in the divergent thinking side, not on the convergent thinking. Yeah. Because you know how biased we are to use conversion thinking, and I want to use AI to rebalance my cognitive processes so that I amplify even more of my thinking.


Awesome. 


I see we already at. 


18 54. Yeah. Six minutes left. We are six minutes left. So what I will suggest is 


I'm gonna do a bit of a summary with a few keywords. Yes. And you will be able to add the last one, the last one that you say, oh, this is a, a keyword that is missing because we have a tradition in these webinars.


Is that we finished exactly on time. So it's it's a bit of a, of, of a mind game looking at the watch and trying to be exactly on time. And what happens also is that after that people know that they can go back to their kids and stuff. But for those who want to stay we then have a bit of a non-recorded conversation, Uhhuh which is warm, a bit more like a hangout.


So I will, I will do a bit of a summary. You can still go 


on with the questions 


and we'll cover them in the more hangout phase right after. 


But, so for me, the summary 


that I'm taking is, Thinking like we think about prototypes with an S, we think about futures with an S. Correct. I think that's one key learning that I take from our, our conversation.


The other thing is we have this notion of, okay, but 


how do I do that? 


One thing to do 


this is. Collecting 


it's having your Pinterest of signals, maybe less visual, but having your database of stuff that you say, oh, this is exciting, this is interesting. 


How can I 


use that? So there is this collection point of point of view, and then there is taking a weak signal.


So something that is not yet 


so used or prevalent around the world and 


say, oh, if I use this, And what if this will be normal? What if this will be everywhere? How will I, will they change my service? How will I change? Will it change experiences that people have? So it's looking at the world, collecting, taking one, trying it out, and doing this again, futures and doing this many times.


We have lovely books that we have here. And also this notion that it's not on the methods. The game is not so much on the methods of few. Obviously we need them but they're easy to find. And it's 


more the 


shift in thinking that is the maybe the place that it has to wrap up. And then we have this element of decolonizing that we discussed also a bit, which we can say very practically.


It starts at home. And then also to open up to the next part of the world. And obviously AI can be helpful. It's always in the conversation these times, but again, as you said, it's, it's just a tool that helps us in the divergent way of thinking to imagine even more ss at the end of future. And I think that's, that's a very lovely thing to see.


What will be for you, the last word, the last gift that you'd like to share to the community? As a little departure gift of, Hey, this is my last magic 


wands that you can use. That will be the, the paper to wrap the gift. Yeah. Alright. Everything we talked about today fits into one category called Future Literacy and in Future Literate is, Having the tools, the mindset, in order to navigate the question of the future, and having those, you know, opened up spaces of freedom of expression, where you have agency and where you are not in someone else's future.


It's the future. And, and maybe my last conclusion, we the future is a social spare space. It's co-constructed and it should not be My, the future, I hope for the positive futures and preferable futures, I hope for is that it's not a capitalist, neoliberal, destructive future. Of course. So we can add a few scenarios when we do that, add a few ingredients in what we do to challenge people.


Yeah. Yeah. That's very important. And bring the people to us. Of course. Always not any place.  


Thank you so much again, a big thank you to you, Pascal. Thanks for we, we will hang out a few more minutes, but is the tradition 


we finish exactly on time 


and sometimes even one minute before, and that's exactly what we will do today to honor the Swiss.


Style and we'll hang out a little bit more. I see we have some little applauses that happen and obviously I will give them back to you. Thank you. And we will now stop the recording. Wish everyone a lovely evening and a lovely time and we'll transition to the more hangout moment of today.


Again, thank you everyone. Thank you Pascal for joining us today for. Sharing so much with us and 


for taking the time. Yeah, my pleasure. Cheers. Bye-Bye.

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