Our last episode of El Periscopio on futures design with Stef Silva from Invisible introduced us to this emerging discipline that is here to stay and has become established in companies and administrations. Although it is not like having a crystal ball, it is the discipline that invites us to draw and think about future scenarios to understand what it is possible to live and how we can get there (which is much more fun! 😉).
According to Stef, futures design is a world where research meets creativity and art to write stories of the future. She defines it as "thinking differently to create divergent environments" and explains that, in her experience, it is being very well received in the companies where she works, and that "people have fun".
We asked him about the sectors in which the design of futures is most necessary or convenient. Stef talks to us about those anchored to previous models , such as industry, banking and insurance, since "they have a very relevant weight in society and , at the same time, many of them have to rethink their work models and the consequences of their products and services".
Futures design projects are based on research. In fact, Stef explains that the results depend on the time you have to research: "The more time we have to detect emerging technologies, changes in behavioral patterns, weak signals of change, the better the results.
"We are change detectives and, as detectives, we need to create observational environments that nurture the day-to-day of the investigation," Stef explains.
Invisible works with companies that have embraced futures design and have acquired these ongoing observation environments. Stef explains that "companies that embrace and embrace this movement have the potential for brutal change."
According to her, from Invisible they would love to democratize futures design, that it reaches everyone so that all stakeholders can benefit from all that the discipline has to offer.
Although it is a very creative discipline, futures design also hides methodology and process, in fact, it is thanks to it that results are achieved. They always start with the detection and analysis of signals of change through the collection of information and knowledge. They then go on to detect patterns within these changes, to discover where there is trend and directionality. They then blend the trends and describe scenarios in a given context.
Stef stresses the importance of diversity: "Trends don't happen in isolation, we need diverse people to bring different voices to each of the stages".
It is in this last step where creativity comes into play. Invisible uses illustration or the design of future artifacts, which help to better visualize the different scenarios.
What are the criteria for something to become a trend? Stef is clear. A trend is something that has no way back, it's not hype, but something that really changes the status quo. They are movements that have a very clear directionality, that come from very established places and from many people at the same time.
The profiles that work in the design of futures are very diverse. From the social sciences and humanities (anthropology, sociology) to roles in the art world and ending with professionals linked to the field of design.
Finally, we discovered the biggest mistakes that could be made in futures design. The first: thinking that we are predicting, since futures design consists of drawing future scenarios and then coming to the present and seeing what might happen. The second: not being aware of people's biases or preconceived ideas. The third: doing it behind closed doors and turning it into an overly intellectualized discipline that is difficult to access.