Future Workshops as a tool for generating vision/buy-in

14 Jun 2004 - 10:55am
10 years ago
1 reply
1003 reads
NICK MEARA
2004

Hi,

Has anyone on this list come across Future Workshops[1] before?

I'm trying to get the university I work in to look more holistically at it's
IT and electronic learning and teaching provision. As universities tend to
be fragmentary organisations[2] I thought that a participatory technique
might be more successful as it would bring people together to see a
whole-university view rather than that of individual units. In the
Participatory Design literature that I read Future Workshops seemed to come
up quite often. They consist of three phases:

* The critique phase: draws out specific issues
about work practice
* The fantasy phase: explores 'what if' scenarios
and visions of the future
* The implementation phase: looks at how realistic changes
can be made

I'd be keen to hear from anyone who's actually run a Future Workshop: how
successful was it? Do you have any tips to help them run smoothly etc.

Also what other techniques have people used successfully to produce a vision
or to help generate consensus or buy-in?

Cheers,

Nick.

[1] Junk, R and Mullert, N (1987) _Future Workshops: How to create desirable
futures_ Institute for Social Inventions
[2] Goffee, R and Jones, G (1996) What holds the modern company together?
_Harvard Business Review_, November-December, pp. 133-148
........................................................
Nick Meara E-learning Experience Co-ordinator
ICT-IDSG, Aston University, Birmingham

'A mind is a fire to be kindled,
not a vessel to be filled.'
-- Plutarch
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Comments

14 Jun 2004 - 12:30pm
Kristoffer Åberg
2003

Future Workshops as a tool for generating vision/buy-inBased on the method in [3], I moderated a full-day future workshop on the topic of our interaction design process across multiple sites and disciplines, which generated a rich set of useful results in the form of problems, ideas and actions. I think it did manage to bring people together to create and see a holistic view, even though consensus may not have been fully achieved.

Allow for plenty of time carrying out the workshop, you will need it. As is true for many other creative techniques which generate a lot of ideas, preparing efficient ways of documentation is crucial (e.g. post-its on sheets taped on the wall, visible to all). Being able to categorize and organize results in real time is a very useful skill on the part of the moderator. Another is to have a metaphor (as described in [3]) ready for the critique and fantasy phases to jog participants' creativity; in our case it wasn't necessary to introduce one since there was plenty of problems and ideas anyway. We also had three sub-groups in the implementation phase, due to different roles and job descriptions.

And as is true for any actitivity, follow-up is essential. I.e. the implementation phase must be actually carried out (!) and not only planned.

Another method I use for more design-oriented vision building is brainstorming, which is powerful if done right and with the proper amount of preparation, most importantly defining the actual problem to be solved through design. Brainstorming and future workshops are both basic methods that can and need to be adapted and improved in a myriad ways, depending on the topic at hand, the participants, etc. With good preparation, tailoring into variations, post-workshop evaluation and continuous improvement these methods will go a long way.

HTH,

/Kristoffer

[3] Kensing, F. and Madsen, K. H. (1991) "Generating Visions: Future Workshops and Metaphorical Design" in Greenbaum, J. and Kyng, M. "Design at work: Cooperative design of computer systems", pp. 155-168, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, ISBN 0-8058-0612-1
----- Original Message -----
From: NICK MEARA
To: 'discuss at interactiondesigners.com'
Sent: Monday, June 14, 2004 5:55 PM
Subject: [ID Discuss] Future Workshops as a tool for generating vision/buy-in

Hi,

Has anyone on this list come across Future Workshops[1] before?

I'm trying to get the university I work in to look more holistically at it's IT and electronic learning and teaching provision. As universities tend to be fragmentary organisations[2] I thought that a participatory technique might be more successful as it would bring people together to see a whole-university view rather than that of individual units. In the Participatory Design literature that I read Future Workshops seemed to come up quite often. They consist of three phases:

* The critique phase: draws out specific issues
about work practice
* The fantasy phase: explores 'what if' scenarios
and visions of the future
* The implementation phase: looks at how realistic changes
can be made

I'd be keen to hear from anyone who's actually run a Future Workshop: how successful was it? Do you have any tips to help them run smoothly etc.

Also what other techniques have people used successfully to produce a vision or to help generate consensus or buy-in?

Cheers,

Nick.

[1] Junk, R and Mullert, N (1987) _Future Workshops: How to create desirable futures_ Institute for Social Inventions
[2] Goffee, R and Jones, G (1996) What holds the modern company together? _Harvard Business Review_, November-December, pp. 133-148

........................................................
Nick Meara E-learning Experience Co-ordinator
ICT-IDSG, Aston University, Birmingham

'A mind is a fire to be kindled,
not a vessel to be filled.'
-- Plutarch

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