Last year I began exploring ways forward, intuitively, for my work. I needed a place for bold experimentation to happen, which I could not do via Action Foresight, which delivers professional services and can’t necessarily use clients as guinea pigs 🙂

I also wanted to find a way to open the ideation and experimentation space into the public social media domain, to relinquish the ownership of ideas, and to allow an emergent social process to take over and facilitate the acceleration of social change.

The idea of Futureslab was thus born, and became a place for me to put forward:

– social innovations
– methods / methodologies (foresight, design, org psych etc.)
– social change campaigns
– experimental research projects
– games
– social policy
– etc.

So far my experience with Futureslab / the opening up process has been positive. Many of the ideas I have put out have come back to me in boomerang form.

The idea for vision mapping was taken up by Darren Sharp and led to a workshop process with the city of melbourne, and taken up by Marcus Bussey for a project in the Philippines.

The idea for the Pax Pacifica Crowdsourcing project, originally sent to Taiwan’s MOFA, came back via Giorgos Georgopoulos, who is the tech behind futurescaper and is keen to make it one of their pro bono projects.

The idea for the Commons Game has boomeranged in the form of Michael Linton, the inventor of the LETS system, who has developed cloud based currency applications and is keen to support the project with his technology, as well as advisory support from John Sweeney and Aaron Rosa.

and many other elements

Besides relief from the onerous burden of holding on to ideas (as if ideas were mine!), putting the ideas in the public domain has meant that the ideas return with more energy, if and when they do.

What are the basic ideas and rationales for FuturesLab?

First, I feel, as many others feel, that we are facing great challenges, and thus we need bold ideas, ideation and experiments that are adequate responses to our great challenges. Bold does not mean big. A small experiment by scale can still be bold.

Secondly, FL is meant to be a social change accelerator. It is part of a knowledge commons that should support people’s ideation and experiments worldwide. If someone ‘steals’ an idea from futureslab and develops it, it is a form of flattery, and means the idea was useful to someone else.

Thirdly, FL is about social gifting, letting go of the burden of ownership, and releasing ideas into the public. (we will later define a creative commons and / or peer use license so that this principle is not abused by others).

Fourth, FL is meant to be a space for social learning for transformation. Acknowledging that there will not be simple answers and simple solutions, we can experiment and learn on the pathway to transformation.

Finally, it is a play space that allows people and members to just have fun, add ideas and projects, and experience a social emergence space for creativity.

What do members do in FL?

Activity of members in FL is very simple:

– if you have any idea or projects you want to make public, post them on the FL website and FB page, and keep it tracked according to the stage that it is in (Anticipate, Design, Connect and Evolve).

– run a live event using the FL account – thus in addition to posting on the website, you can also have a conversation about the idea, present the design of the idea, or even run a live experiment.

– P2P support – provide feedback for any other person posting on the website, or FB page. In some cases you may join or be part of the same project team (e.g. Darren and I work together on Vision Mapping and Marcus and I work together on “Futureswise: Decision Making Enhancer”)

Overall expectations for membership are to be involved ORGANICALLY. This means, as the spirit moves us, so we get involved. If and when you might get inspired by an idea or project or event idea, then do it. And if we might have some feedback for others, then …

Any help developing the community and foundations (website, network, social media) is a plus…

Documentation and tracking is important. As an idea moves across the Anticipate, Design, Connect and Evolve process, keep it updated on the website.

The other expectation is a small payment of $20 per year to cover the cost of (which members have access to to run FL events in their area)

Current members 

Members include:

  • JosĂ© Ramos
  • Reanna Browne
  • Darren Sharp
  • Heather Frey
  • John Sweeney
  • Mike McCallum
  • Bridgette Newbury
  • Theo Kitchener
  • Aaron Rosa
  • Gareth Priday
  • Jeanne Hoffman
  • Marcus Bussey
  • Kristin Alford
  • Siew Fang Law
  • Ian McBurney
  • Matt Rowbottom
  • Elena Pereyra
  • Sharon Ede
  • Peter Hayward
  • Stephanie Pride
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