It is possible to design the future

This is how we use foresight to explore opportunities and realize ambitious plans.

Written by:

Åsmund Eikenes

,

Leader for Content Design

December 13, 2023

It's almost impossible to predict what the future will bring. But the decisions we make and what we do today sometimes have long-lasting consequences. And herein lies the power of design: thinking creatively and critically about the future, imagining what the future might bring, and using these "future memories" to set the direction for strategies and development paths.

In recent years, foresight methods - methods that investigate, explore and shape the future - have therefore become part of design and innovation practice.

Foresight for strategic thinking

At Halogen, we use foresight in a variety of projects. We adapt our work to the specific context of each project, choosing the appropriate form of foresight to achieve different outcomes. 

In some projects, we use a fairly pragmatic foresight process to help companies find new opportunities in the market. In other projects, we use foresight to support strategic thinking and stimulate cross-sector collaboration and system innovation.

In a foresight project, we combined expertise in tourism and mobility to explore how to make public and shared transportation attractive in the Hafjell region. We developed different future scenarios that described successful shifts from private car transportation to collective mobility solutions. The result was a report describing trends and future scenarios for the region.

- Nikolai Øvrebekk, designer at Halogen.

Other times, we use foresight to tackle more abstract problems. In these cases, we combine the abstract, open, challenging and fun in conversations that balance both possibilities with probabilities.

To help the company Aquaressurs develop their strategy, we spent a lot of time exploring different future scenarios in the aquaculture sector. We then worked backwards from a 10-year perspective to set out key strategic milestones for the company. The foresight work opened their field of vision to a much larger landscape of opportunities, but it also showed that it would take many different stakeholders working together to "steer the ship" towards a preferred direction.

- Thiago Freitas, designer at Halogen

Foresight to detail the roadmap

In addition to dreaming of possibilities, we also help customers take the first steps towards a desired future. We then move from strategic thinking to strategy development and planning, helping customers design, develop and implement the necessary changes and innovations.

The ability to bridge the gap between strategic thinking and implementation is particularly important when designing for safety-critical environments. At Halogen, we design products, systems, services and infrastructure to be used in the defense, energy, maritime and healthcare sectors.

In these projects, we use foresight to help domain experts prepare for different future outcomes. Through facilitated workshops, we co-create speculative future scenarios. In addition to all possible technological, human and societal changes, we also need to address several worst-case scenarios and accidents that may occur. In particular, we explore how these scenarios behave in peacetime, in times of crisis and in times of war. This can be quite a demanding task, but the result is a rich and detailed map where new opportunities and hidden challenges become visible. This creates a shared understanding that helps participants to prioritize and set direction.

- Andreas Myskja, designer at Halogen

Foresight to simulate reflection

Tangibleresults from foresight work provide important value for companies and organizations, and thinking critically and creatively about the future helps prepare for changes and openings in the market. Reflections on the future also include a normative aspect: What kind of future do we want?

Tohelp companies and organizations solve common challenges, Halogen has developed the "Playbook for systemic innovation - mindsets and methodologies for transformation". Here, foresight plays a key role in bringing together multiple stakeholders towards a shared vision of the future.

Co-creating the future is very important as it gives everyone an opportunity to contribute to a future they want to be a part of. The process unites the group, as the future includes their shared values, norms and beliefs. This is in contrast to both critical design and the use of scenarios, which can easily become counterproductive in a systemic change process. Normative foresight helps organizations to change on a systemic level.

- Susanne Ringdal, System Innovation Advisor at Halogen

The future of the future

At Halogen, we are constantly expanding our use of foresight. Our combination of theoretical and practical knowledge of foresight makes us stand out, and we aim to be at the forefront of new developments.

As Norman Henchey said in 1978: The future is not what it used to be.

Let us know if you'd like to learn more about foresight and how we can help you and your organization develop forward-looking strategies and drive transformative work.

Åsmund Eikenes
Leader for Content Design
aasmund@halogen.no