Author: K. Christoph Keller, Aveniture GmbH

Among the trends in the field of Futures Studies, the most fundamental is the shifting of the focus away from methods and their correct execution towards quality and outcome of futures oriented exercises. Indicative of this shift is the ongoing discussion on quality criteria in recent academic literature, that emerged in Germany and rapidly spread to Finland and Europe. Another indication of this shift is the changing of labels: the many new future oriented activities currently underway are, while making intense use of foresight-methods, labelled “innovation” or “resilience” rather than foresight.

In line with this observation is the emergence of new audience-centred (instead of research-centred) approaches. The these include among others “Gaming”, “Labs”, and “design fiction”. Common to these approaches is a focus on the participant’s experience and in-context or action learning rather than knowledge creation and transfer.

Computer support and digitisation of course have an effect in the foresight-field too. On one hand, automation of scanning and analysis is made possible by new technologies. On the other hand, foresight-support systems borrow elements of the social web to create communities around future-relevant topics. A number of platforms for trend management and scenario building with standard methods have been created by software vendors over the last years.

Overall, as the shortcomings of traditional foresight approaches become clear, as enough users now have become victims of superficial marketing-oriented work and megatrend-merchants, dealing with the future is re-emerging as participatory / inclusive approach. Foresight is becoming interpreted much more as a social and imagineering competence instead of being knowledge-intensive and methodology-driven.