The development framework or ‘methodology’ for FuturesLab involves moving a project through four phases.

  • Anticipate
  • Design
  • Connect
  • Evolve

When an idea is moved into each phase, the network and community is alerted and invited to provide whatever support they can. This can be in the form of feedback, encouragement, but can also be more involved, such as offers for assistance, remote collaboration and money.

Anticipate is about the great idea, the what if and what is possible. It is not necessarily about anticipating the big future (futures of society) through scenarios. It is more about what would be great, possible and socially needed now and in the emerging futures (future fit), what can be done with existing and emerging resources / technology, and the kind of future people want to live in (preferred future and values / ethics based).

This leads to the Design, conceptual or physical, of an artifact or model. For example, if dealing with a product, it can be conceptual design, graphic or technical design, or an actual physical prototype. Or if concerning a business, it can be the conceptual business model, or it can be the basic minimum scale of the business in actual form (the Minimum Viable Product offer).

This leads to Connect, where the design, in whatever its stage, is shared and connected with intended and unintended users. Critical issues here are how it works for people, do people like it, want to share it, how well does it work? Connect is similar to David Kolb’s stage of ‘experience’ where the planned experiment is applied and experienced / observed. Because of network society dynamics, however, connect takes on much more meaning, as an idea, design or model can be distributed within a much more dynamic and complex space of engagement. A crowdfunding campaign, for example is a typical mode of ‘connect’ in this Anticipatory Design space.

Evolve is the impetus to change the design and offer, try something new, or make adaptations to the existing design. It stems from the experience of connecting, what users of the design (program, project, product, model, ‘thing’) want and need. Depending on the nature of the connecting, the innovators may or may not know what are the best ways to change, improve or adapt it. Learning is critical here – ways that connect the innovator and user – and bring them together into a virtuous cycle of co-creation.

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