Many aspects of the future exist in the present but are often overlooked or overhyped, which tends to muddle the clarity of a 'forward view'. These aspects might be too slow and colossal to observe on a human scale, or too 'weak' and liminal to notice if we're not paying careful attention. The future can appear as a fleeting glimpse, a brief event or apparent glitch. It could swell like a slowly emerging wave. In other cases the future is thinly interspersed across large (geographical, conceptual or cultural) distances, so we can only notice its pattern if we look very closely from afar. Sometimes the future isn’t actually here, yet a simulation of it is woven from thoughts and assumptions that mutate into words, actions and self-fulfilling prophecies. In this section we look at different techniques that can be used to scan the past and present for signs of emerging futures. These signs are also known as trends, tendencies, (weak) signals, or drivers of change.

  • Assumption-based mapping of drivers
  • Online horizon scanning / databases
  • Trend impact analysis/ Morphological analysis / FAR
  • Wild cards (adding unexpected imagery/cards/ to open minds in workshops)
  • Emerging issues (in the media)
  • Foodprints ruler
  • Insight meditation
  • Rites of passage
  • PiMu-DiMe
  • Dispatches from CQWG (cross quadrant working group)