When traveling to the future, we need to acknowledge that it exists as a multitude of possibilities until it becomes our present. Out of this multitude of possibilities, we can create possible futures. Within these possible futures, we can unveil novelty—ultimately, opportunities that would otherwise stay hidden from today's perspective.
What if starting at the end
would be the perfect beginning?
How can we create these possible futures? By detaching ourselves from the present, constantly asking questions, and provoking the status quo. To do this, we need to draw from the sense of possibility. The writer Robert Musil defines the sense of possibility in his masterpiece The Man Without Qualities, as attaching “no more importance to what is than to what is not. [...] Whoever has it does not say, for instance: Here this or that has happened, will happen, must happen; but he invents: Here this or that might, could, or ought to happen. If he is told that something is the way it is, he will think: Well, it could probably just as well be otherwise.” The sense of possibility allows us to think freely, to decouple from the “how” and “why,” to only accept our imagination as a limitation and to see the world anew.
Why is this change of perspective so important? Often, too much value is put on what is and too little on what is not. This mentality significantly narrows the scope of our imagination, making it difficult to spot and come up with novelty. Without a future perspective and the sense of possibility, we would be trying to find the next striking opportunity starting from the present—the known. What we are aiming at instead is to jump beyond the known. This allows us to start with the game-changing idea already imagined so that we can trace it back to the present. Actively imagining and creating possible futures—not in terms of today’s needs and projections, but on tomorrow’s own terms—ultimately casts a light on the decisions we need to take today to make them our reality tomorrow. Future-oriented thinking therefore allows us to make informed decisions in an ever-changing world.
Y Vision Cone
The Y Vision Cone is one of the tools we use to create and explore desirable futures. It’s divided into four sections, with the bubbles representing different scenarios that contain information about a specific possible future. The dotted lines represent the connections between the different scenarios that travel through each section and lead to different possible futures. From the present, the cone grows to a potentially infinite future. The further away from the present, the more speculative, abstract and unchained the scenarios are.
How do we use the vision cone? Imagine your friend invites you for a coffee at a café on the other side of town. What would be the first thing you’d want to know? Probably what time you’re going to meet. If you know you’re going to meet at 10 am, you can start thinking about when you need to leave your apartment, when to have a shower, and finally, when to wake up so you’re not late. This process is called reverse engineering of time. We all make use of it in our everyday lives—but what about future thinking? The vision cone allows us to systematically apply reverse engineering of time and trace future visions and possibilities back to present day. It’s used as a bridge to connect two distant worlds: the future and the present. With this process, we can understand which steps have to be taken today in order to make our vision a reality in the future.
Blueprints of Futures
The Blueprint of the Futures is a collection of various developments and dimensions that we discovered during our explorations. They are already observable now and, we believe, will still be relevant in the future. When combining the themes, the Blueprint helps to think multi-dimensionally about the futures and can be used as a tool to create future scenarios.