Wednesday, August, 27, 2014

Day 2

All Read
(1) Dator, J. (2009), Alternative Futures at the Manoa School. Journal of future studies, November 2009, 14(2):1-18.

(2) Schwartz, p. (2011) Learnings from the long view pp. 34-59

(3) Mont Fleur scenarios blog description

All watch  (1) Transformative Scenario Planning & (2) Mont Fleur Scenarios

(1) Adam Kahane at Ci2012 – “Transformative Scenario Planning” (12 minutes)

(2) Mont Fleur Scenario videos

Part 1/3 Mont Fleur scenarios (10 minutes)

Part 2/3 (10 minutes)

Part 3/3 (10 minutes)

Graduate students read

Cynthia Selin (2007) Professional Dreamers: The future in the past of scenario planning.

Other resources for thinking of alternative scenarios and forces/drivers of change.

Other resources you might look at include:





12 thoughts on “Wednesday, August, 27, 2014

  1. “It is a huge mistake to limit participation. The process should be broad” It is important to involve all the participants and let go of political grounds to promote the best scenario.

    Also, I agree that many people will keep the main worry about the future and only think about that one worry. It is difficult to stray from the current problem and expand and re-evaluate the new upcoming difficulties.

    There are no preconditions to the transformative Scenario planning. All you need is to come and discuss. When the world is stuck, it will remain stuck. However, Adam Kahane discusses three stories getting out of stuckness. Step one is negotiation with the government. Step two is everybody march-everyone becoming impatient. Step three is in unity, makes strength.

    Of course, there are times we are addicted to our old stories. We are trapped by the past conversations. In order to succeed and get out of the old situation, we need to tell new stories creating new and improved situations. Kahane mentions that when we are in situations where we cannot solve in our context, then we need to transform our context on our own.

    Watching the Mont Fleur videos, I’ve learned that scenarios are useful of planning and can lead to better policy. The video follows a similar discussion as Adam Kahane’s. The first step is to yield negotiations. Each step follows that of a bird for symbolism. The Ostrich will keeps its feet on the ground with the government acting as none representative. Senario two yields a duck making its run, but cannot take off and everything collapses. It becomes a limbed duck, the government is incapacitated. Thirdly, the Icarus is powered by the flight, ignores the warning and plummets. Lastly, the epitome of scenarios yield the flamingos which will negotiate and won’t destroy each other. The flamingos act as one of the inclusive government of democracy and growth.


  2. Dator: I found Jim Dator’s article to be extremely helpful. Previously, I felt confused and overwhelmed by how one would go about creating alternative futures. I think that how he describes the process of creating alternative futures is very helpful and comprehensive. He obviously writes for a beginner in the field of alternative futures, but I feel that as you gain more practice you will be able to really grasp the steps and insights he mentioned. I would be really interested to sit down and go through the process that Dator describes.

    Schwartz: I found this article to be really interesting. I find that I agree with the driving forces that Schwartz defined. I think that it is really interesting that he sees us becoming a knowledge economy. While there is a push for education, I feel that we are still highly dependent on physical resources and that the change is not happening fast enough. I also find that I agree with STEEP. I would be really interested to see how accurate his scenarios end up.

    Transformation Video: I find it really interesting that Columbia ended up going through all four future scenarios that were envisioned. I also agree with the point that was made about telling new stories. I find that, while it is important to understand the past, it dictates too much of our beliefs today and generations are left stuck in old attitudes. I think this can be seen with a wide range of political, religious, and cultural beliefs. Future scenarios enable to stretch beyond that thinking and give some kind of perspective about those old stories and where they can lead communities.

    Mont Fleur: I find these scenarios to conflict with what we have read so far. Reading has stressed that there aren’t “good” or “bad” futures. This seems to indicate otherwise. The Flamingos scenario, while obviously being the preferable future, seems to contain all positive details and goes against other scenarios we have seen. However, I do appreciate that they went back to refine each scenario and debated my concerns about the flamingo scenario.


  3. Dator’s (2009) discussion of alternative futures (“continued growth”, “collapse”, “discipline”, and “transformation”) was an insightful framework to understand the Schwartz (2011) reading and Mount Fleur scenarios blog/videos and “Transformative Scenario Planning” video. As Schartz (2011) stated at the end of his chapter, “The world may be uncertain and unpredictable but that’s no excuse for being unprepared. We have more access than ever to the data knowledge, ideas, and tools that we need to shape a better future for us all” (p. 59). Toward the end of his video discussing his work in Colombia, Adam Kahane says that “transformative scenario planning” is exactly the thing that helps people change the context from which problems emerge, work with others (allies, strangers, and opponents) on that change, and work with others indirectly on that change (when people do not have the same views on the cause or solution to the problem). According to Wilde (2013) on the Futurista blog, this is exactly what the Mont Fleur scenarios (where Kahane was a facilitator) accomplished in South Africa by directing attention to the future of the country. The videos showed how if people agreed they wanted to have a “flight of the flamingos” outcome for South Africa, then they would have to take objective steps to get there.


  4. One of the interesting things I found in the Dator article was how he mentioned that people tend to view the future as an extension of the present, and how that can limit the decisions they make toward a desirable future. I thought that statement was relevant to just about any situation, from dealing with global issues to thinking about my own future. In that respect, I think scenario planning is an effective way to facilitate openmindedness. The South African situation is also a good example of the kind of society that needed a transformative intervention that Adam Kahane mentioned – one that was caught in a cycle of problems heavily influenced by their history. I think this relates back to the need to consider the future outside of the constraints of the past.


  5. I found both articles to be quite complementary to each other.The article by Dator talks about the framework through which we can come up with alternative futures. The way this article describes alternative futures is slightly different to that of the Living Futures article. in the former, I think that alternative futures is described as a process where you evaluate possible futures and determine a preferred one and then find ways to make it happen by incorporating it in the strategic plan. In the latter, it’s a term coined for looking at different plausible scenarios in order to be better prepared for the future and the uncertainty that it holds. Dator goes on to describes the importance of having at least one scenario from each of the 4 buckets – continued growth, collapse, discipline and transformation. This is where I think the link is extended by Schwartz. In Schwartz’s article, the drivers of change is very clearly mentioned, but also a general categorization of the gloabl landscape through STEEP is emphasized. I think that combining the two processes, by maybe using STEEP during the creating the future step in Dator’s process will make the process stronger.


  6. What I find missing from the Schwartz article is an explanation of how the STEEP factors work together. For example, I would personally say that social and technological factors hold much more weight than environmental, economic, and political. Technological factors may one day be synonymous with environmental factors as we develop technology that can combat the damage done to the environment. Technological factors will also influence economic factors, depending on what corporations invent the mentioned technologies first, and how they choose to share (or not share) that information. Social factors will change political factors as women and people of color rise to power. There is a large amount of intersectionality not yet addressed that could really change how we speak about and even categorize the relevant factors in the future.

    I really enjoyed the Mont Fleur scenarios because they interpret the concept of four potential futures in a more realistic fashion, without sacrificing too much in the way of new ideas. The standard four potential futures (growth, collapse, transform, discipline) do not directly explain too much about the impact of these situations, just that they occur. Each of the Mont Fleur scenarios maintains simplicity, without sacrificing crucial information. Maybe it’s the cause and effect structure of the scenarios, but I just feel more prepared to accept the situations. The scenario I found most compelling was the Icarus story. I feel that the temptation with designing the future is to feel pressures to make drastic changes without considering the impact. It was nice to see that there was consideration of this.


  7. Mont Fleur is very interesting because it does not exactly design and evalueate truths but it gets people to think about the next 10 years and to debate about which actions we should take. This is important because a successful debate can spark good planning and this transitions us in to thoughts by Dator about alternative futures. Dator wants us to step back and analyze/categorize many different ideas about alternative futures, which could range from climate change issues to artificial intelligence issues and space. He shows how we can easily organize our ideas about the future in to a clear and concise framework, ultimately helping us formulate a plan. Shwartz, on the other hand, believes in future strength with knowledge and analyzes the driving forces by understanding the global economy. He talks about different factors which include, interconnection, issues with size and scale, theres is also speed, and diversity and mentions that the combination of these factors helps us form complexity, which ultimately leads to incoherence. He believes that we are “overwhelmed by the magnitude and nature of this crisis”. He turns his focus to knowledge and makes a valid point that “The greatest value in the world today comes from knowledge- the ability to reinvent how we do old things”
    These are all necessary and will ultimately affect how we can design scenarios and think successfully about the future.


  8. Dator’s article was incredibly helpful for Assignment 1. Thinking about the future can be an overwhelming mental task but the Manoa Studies do a great job of depicting a process that can be mimicked by anyone. By focusing the task on forces of change, you as a policy maker can now create many different futures easily. All you have to do is vary your forces of change.

    The Mont Fleur Scenarios were an amazing example of the benefit of future studies. These scenarios serve as an inspiration for policy makers who wish to communicate their strategy to the public in an easy fashion. By using stories that had sentimental value to the populace, the South African government was able to effectively communicate where they want to take the government and the outcomes of their decisions.


  9. Dator’s article on the Manoan method of creating alternative futures really put into perspective what we are doing in class. The step by step methodology laid out, clearly sets limits on the number constraints to place on a team devising alternative futures. Allowing oneself to fully “experience” opened my eyes in how to separate yourself from present-based preconceptions. Schwartz’s descriptions of his views of the future seemed like a utilization of Dator’s principles providing a great example for the future work we do in class.

    It was very interesting to see how Schwartz places a strong emphasis on the potential of technology to drive possible futures–particularly the futures which lead to “transformational societies” as envisioned by Dator. On the other hand, the Mont Fleur and Kahane methods placed a strong focus how government policies can affect the future. This unique difference between transformative scenario planning and adaptable scenario planning places a strong responsibility on the futurist to create futures applicable to the larger organization. For example Shell cannot drive the future thus it creates adaptable scenarios but in Colombia the future is being seen as an end goal thus the transformative scenario planning creates potential story lines to lead into. Thus, it is key to understand how we create these stories and whether emphasis is placed on controllable or uncontrollable factors.


  10. The Manoa Studies reading by Dator created an excellent outline for how to create a visioning process through seven key steps. The seven indicators show how “future studies” aren’t based on fictitious thinking but on facts, including: looking at the past, understanding the present, forecasting aspects of the future, etc. In addition, he iterates that for the future study to be successful everyone needs to be involved in the process, it isn’t beneficial for anyone if only the president and his/her cabinet is involved. It’s key for people to let go of the bias that whatever is happening today will continue tomorrow or stating that we can’t know what the future holds because it’s in “God’s hands.” They also provide four interesting examples of futures, some more optimistic, such as Continued Growth, while others a more morose, like the Collapse.

    In the reading by Schwartz he makes a compelling argument how the world is currently heading towards a Systemic Crisis, due to the factors of interconnection, speed, diversity, interconnection, complexity, incoherence, and out of control. He suggests that to avoid this crisis hierarchal restructuring is needed, as currently no one is responsible for what is happening. Because we are lacking an appropriate infrastructure we can’t deal with climate change, the financial crisis or global terrorism. He also comments on how we need to become knowledge economies and writes the example of Nigeria and Singapore, where Singapore was able to prosper while Nigeria is still floundering.

    The Mont Fleur scenarios are a good example of a country in peril using future studies to take charge of their future. I found the flight analogy compelling and very clear in it’s explanation of what could happen in each step if they don’t reach the flight of the flamingo.


  11. Okay, two questions:
    1. Manoan scenarios: they said basically everything they came up with was either Continued Growth, Collapse, Disciplined Society, or Technological Transformation, so those are their 4 archetypes. Really? I can’t really come up with an alternative off the top of my head, but it seems surprising to me that there’d only be these four archetypes. Also, it feels like archetypes might limit our vision: we’d end up with just those archetypes and that’s it, even when there are more scenarios out there. I guess they’re starting points? So you start with one of those, and you can change it from there but at least it’s a start.

    2. Like Adria said, Schwartz and the Mont Fleur scenarios do seem to explicitly present “good” and “bad” scenarios. I thought that was against the point of the exercise. After you hear “oh, it’s the bad one”, you just start lumping all kinds of negative things on there. Also, Schwartz looks back and says “how correct were we?” – I thought that was against the point too. We’re not forecasting. Or is that part of it: look back to see how it turned out? Not so you can say “ha ha, we were right”, but to just reflect on what parts turned out, just to see?


  12. The Manoan School was an interesting construct. Many key features of Hawaiian culture (a reverence for cultural history and the disciplined society’s Christian values or love of the land) were incorporated into the school of thought. These values will be important in moving us towards a sustainable future and increasing our awareness and empathy of other cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds, and ages.

    The four basic types seem like they would be limiting but I guess it fits most models and I agree with their assessment that doing too many more would be difficult to workshop.


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