How are online tools and social media transforming the practice of scenario planning?
Recently I have been interviewing a variety of high profile futurists and up-and-coming strategists on how online approaches are transforming scenario planning and futures work.
Although the questions have been largely open ended, conducted in person, over the phone and by email, they revolve around the following general questions:
- What kinds of social media (SM) do you use in your daily life (Blogs, FB, Twitter, etc.)?
- What are the most important and least important aspects of SM that could be relevant for futures work / scenario planning?
- Have you ever thought of using, or have you ever used, any social media approaches to your professional (or academic) futures work? Can you give an examples?
- If so, what did you think of this process? Did it work work? Do they bring anything new?
- How will social media approaches transform the way futures work is done in the next year? 5 years? 10 years? 25 years?
- Regarding: scenario planning, at what stage of the scenario planning process do you think social media could have the most impact?
- Is face to face scenario planning on the decline? Could it ever be replaced by web-only social media or data mining approaches?
- The web offers more and different kinds of participation. Do you think more participation is necessarily better for futures work? If so, how and why? If not, why?
- Is there else that you would like to comment on in relation to futures, scenario planning and the role of social media and online culture?
I will be posting the most interesting results of this discussion here over the coming weeks. Some of the more interesting themes to have emerged so far are:
- Is more participation necessarily better?
- Is the scenario workshop process really just an elaborate form of the Hawthorne Effect?
- Does real time environment scanning and sensemaking approaches minimise the need for futures thinking?
- Will online approaches fragment stake-holders more than it will connect them?
- Why are they so few young futurists in the field? Is futures irrelevant to the current generation?
I plan on conducting a few more interviews before summing up. If you would like to participate, please feel free to contact me via email (nraford at mit dot edu), by Twitter (@nraford) or in the comments below.
Everyone’s perspectives are very welcome and I am especially interested in those professionals or academics who sit between the world of futures and social media, or those who have used techniques from one or the other in their own work.
Thanks to all those who have contributed so far and to those still interested in contributing! The responses so far have been fantastic.