By pressure of behavior, most executives tune down their creativeness when strategizing. That is counterproductive, the authors argue. As a substitute, they provide another: Design fiction. A design method that immerses executives and staff deeply in varied potential futures, it makes use of artifacts equivalent to quick films, fictitious newspaper articles and imaginary commercials to generate transformation roadmaps. Rooted sooner or later however serving to to behave within the current, design fiction ends in concrete actions taken to regulate corporations’ visions, methods, and actions to create a greater future.
Making an attempt to foretell what the long run will appear to be is doomed to fail. But that is what most executives do after they strategize. They — we — do that as a result of we now have been skilled and educated to make use of tendencies and statistics to foretell what’s more likely to occur and put together accordingly. Consequently, corporations battle to react to adjustments of their environments when they need to be shaping them proactively. This is a matter for executives across the globe whose strategizing, anchored prior to now, misses out on necessary alternatives to ascertain, and design, potential futures.
Over the previous seven years in working with about 50 government groups world wide, we’ve been experimenting with another method to technique: design fiction. Design fiction is a way that immerses executives and staff deeply in varied potential futures, and makes use of artifacts equivalent to quick films, fictitious newspaper articles, and imaginary commercials to generate transformation roadmaps. Rooted sooner or later however serving to to behave within the current, design fiction ends in concrete actions taken to regulate corporations’ visions, methods, and actions to create a greater future.
In contrast to many strategic foresight instruments, design fiction doesn’t try and determine what’s extra more likely to occur. Nor does it restrict technique conversations to the C-suite; in actual fact a core part is the participation of a variety of stakeholders. Consequently, the groups that we’ve seen deploy design fiction are capable of formulate and form fascinating futures that different instruments don’t allow individuals to see.
How We Use It
Step one of placing design fiction into observe includes crafting situations of potential futures. For instance, in a undertaking with a serious automotive insurance coverage firm, we analyzed data from city mobility tendencies, autopilot flight modes, Luc Besson’s infamous film The Fifth Component, and interviews with early electrical automotive adopters to develop situations of potential futures. These atypical information sources assist highlight much less apparent elements that will in any other case stay unnoticed within the strategizing course of. On this instance, from speaking to an airline pilot we understood how the dangers shall be shifting in an autonomous driving ecosystem. Bumper shocks and dropping management of the automobile won’t occur anymore, however new dangers equivalent to system hacking and break down of important sensors will come up.
Akin to strategic foresight instruments, we do analyze present tendencies and weak alerts, however importantly, we additionally leverage one of the best design instruments by constructing on analogous conditions, science fiction inspiration, interviews with excessive customers and different stakeholders. Usually, we additionally interview staff to grasp which potential developments have (not) been thought-about by the corporate. We ask questions equivalent to “What has been the most important failure you’ve seen within the firm?” and “What might kill the corporate?”
From this information we craft a mixture of situations which depict completely different variations of the long run. For instance, by speaking to staff of a serious perfume model, we recognized the limiting perception that the corporate’s gross sales would eternally be pushed by the top of the 12 months season, because it has at all times been because the creation of the model greater than a century in the past. Utilizing this data, we crafted a “Christmas is over” state of affairs through which gross sales seasons had been unfold out over the 12 months.
Subsequent, we run immersive workshops through which we talk about three or 4 of those situations with staff from all areas and ranges of the corporate. The participation of a large group of people helps develop strategizing to sure stakeholders, equivalent to frontline staff, who can contribute completely different and mandatory views in addition to determine alternatives to grab. In small teams, we assist them mirror on the position that their corporations might play in these situations of potential futures and tips on how to provoke the situations for a extra fascinating future. Design fictions emerge from these discussions. They describe new missions and visions for corporations and tips on how to get there. Within the undertaking we performed with the automotive insurance coverage firm, this a part of the design fiction course of triggered a change within the mission of the corporate from insuring vehicles in opposition to damages to enabling particular person journeys with all mobility means. Workshops with the perfume model across the “Christmas is over” state of affairs generated a brand new mission that was extra inclusive by specializing in occasions equivalent to Black Historical past Month and Pleasure Day. Whereas discussing tips on how to get there, the corporate additionally realized that its concentrating on technique could be far more correct because of this.
Lastly, we use the design fictions to design shareable artifacts (e.g., quick films, fictitious newspaper articles) which might be thought-about as a prototype of the businesses’ future. From these artifacts, a roadmap of strategic transformation is created. As an example, a design fiction undertaking with a big development firm ended up shifting their innovation technique after they invented a future through which 3D printing made constructing development carbon-emission free. The transformation roadmap included areas of 3D printing to concentrate on and investments wanted to form this fascinating future.
Inventing the Future
Design fiction has helped dozens of multinational corporations to strategize in a different way. And whereas creating fictional futures could sound a bit quirky, we all know that it really works. For instance, a latest design-fiction undertaking performed with a serious oil and gasoline firm helped determine tips on how to form a future through which individuals residing in distant areas had been much less socially remoted. The corporate determined to repurpose gasoline stations into locations galvanizing neighborhood by way of companies equivalent to automotive sharing hubs, medical facilities, supply platforms, and ghost kitchens. Though firm executives had engaged in varied strategizing and foresight workouts prior to now, solely design fiction enabled them to ascertain this potential model of the long run.
It’s not at all times simple. Utilizing design fiction efficiently requires executives to be artistic and open to all potentialities. But as a lot as design fiction helps convey again creativeness within the strategizing course of, executives might be proof against it. By pressure of behavior, most executives tune down their creativeness when strategizing and it’s difficult for them to do in any other case. To work previous that, we remind them that they’re those in cost, that they’re those with the facility to form a extra fascinating future, and that they’ve the duty to take action. In spite of everything, you possibly can’t predict the long run, you possibly can solely invent it.