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5.g 1/1: Design with Foresight: Strategic Anticipation in Design Research
Global changes in the 21st century appear intractable as social, technological and environmental trends force the contemporary organization to address these uncertainties in vision and strategic direction (Vecchiato, 2012). Enterprises across nearly all sectors of the globalized economy must adapt competitive strategies to anticipate specific political, resource, and market uncertainties that could impact expected growth and broader social benefits (Wilkinson, Mayer, & Ringler, 2014). Yet the inclusion of strategic foresight within product and service design projects has yet to reach its potential in business enterprises.
Given the uncertainties these often-cited global trends impose, why are decision makers not relying on strategic foresight to inform design decisions and service development? The most popular business design processes continue to be decidedly short-term reasoning practices: Agile, Lean, and Design Thinking are at least three problematic methodologies that might repel or constrain the uptake of serious futures anticipation. Business foresight practices are commonly relegated to strategy development, thereby informing business models and competitive strategy, but not necessarily the productive design capacity of the enterprise.
While design often addresses complex business problems for today’s world and the immediate future, strategic foresight develops alternative scenarios for the futures in which these solutions will exist. Scholars and educators in these core fields are devoting increased attention to the question the most effective organizational process or fit for successful, actionable long-horizon strategies (Bishop, Hines, & Collins, 2007; Heskett, 2009; Rohrbeck, Battistella, & Huizingh, 2015; Slaughter, 2002).
The track invites research that explores design practice cases presenting significant integration or effective processes of strategic foresight in constructing a stakeholders’ perspective on capability development and the transformation of design, which is ever more extending its reach beyond the object into areas such as e.g. Design for Social Change, and Design Policy. Specifically, we will seek advanced cases and emerging practices demonstrating futures thinking and strategic foresight in Design and Innovation Management in handling environmental (macro-business) uncertainty, especially where deeper or longer-term anticipation has proven effective in radical or unexpected design-led innovation.
Foresight practices might range from the inclusion of horizon scans and long-term trend mapping, to scenario and narrative construction to inform radical innovations, to speculative design fiction to influence design capability proposals. We encourage design researchers to demonstrate how “Design with Foresight” addresses complex design decision making and future design strategy, and where deeper or longer-term anticipation has proven effective in radical or unexpected strategic design decision-making (Buehring & Liedtka, 2018; Hines & Zindato, 2016).
This track seeks to address, but is not limited to the following questions:
9:00am - 9:25am
The Role of Horizon Scanning in Innovation and Design Practice
University of Bath, United Kingdom
This paper aims to investigate how horizon scanning (HS) is used by practitioners to create foresight for design and innovation and which methods, tools and approaches innovation practitioners use for spotting and acting upon changes in the business environment as well as in the consumer and technological landscape. Thus, this study contributes to the field of horizon scanning and innovation management by presenting the results from 16 in-depths expert interviews with innovation practitioners. Specifically, the aim of this research was to: discuss the role and importance of horizon scanning for innovation and design; identify dominant methods and approaches used within horizon scanning; and compare the methods typically used by different types of innovation practitioners. This study discovered that HS in conjunction with creative and lateral thinking, technology scouting as well as human-centred thinking not only facilitates the early detection of emerging trends and technologies but also facilitates turning insights into actionable ideas, increasing the likelihood of more successful product development, meaningful innovations and sustainable competitiveness.
9:25am - 9:50am
Mapping Abstract Futures
1Parsons the New School for Design; 2scenarioDNA
The future we need to explore is more abstract than it is concrete. As designers, we are constantly conjuring ideas based on a concrete world to improve what we have already seen. Within these predetermined frameworks, we unintentionally bring our own biases to planning the future based on what we know and what we consider safe. However, methods of gathering evidence must reveal the essential dynamics and tensions of the individual in the context of society. The cultural system that represents this process of adaptation can be plotted as a system of language that reflects the dynamics between the concrete and abstract worlds. A craving for such emotional intelligence requires that we expand our binary world into an abstract space for which only the human brain has the capacity. We need such a systematic view in order to think intuitively on multiple levels at the same time.
9:50am - 10:15am
Bringing futures scenarios to life with video animation: A case of disseminating research to nonexpert audiences
Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong S.A.R. (China)
In social science, researchers are often confronted with large amounts of data generated through qualitative methods such as interviews, interpretive narration, and oral history. While selecting an appropriate form of communicating the findings at the end of a research project is every research’s obligation, the dissemination of key insights gained from academic research, and presenting these in other formats that effectively extend the research results and new knowledge gained to nonexpert audiences, is many times forgotten. The purpose of this research is to address this gap in the literature by answering the question of how to communicate futures scenarios to nonexpert audiences, corporate decision-makers, and their staff using video animation as a medium. The process presented in this paper is based on a use case in which academics and designers, at a design school, took the findings of a financial services futures study and applied storytelling and visualisation techniques to bring futures scenarios to life with video animation.
10:15am - 10:40am
Systemic Design for Policy Foresight: towards sustainable future
Politecnico di Torino, Italy
In the last 15 years, tackling wicked problems have evolved into a process that requires multiple change-makers able to face complexity. At the same time, it has generated an increasing interest and proficient relation among foresight and design, due to their shared interest in anticipation and future orientation. Such relationships are visible on similarities they both have on the mindset and methodology used when approaching future scenarios. This paper aims to delve into a better comprehension of how the combination of Systemic Design and foresight can think both creatively and systematically about the future and have a strategic role in a policy-making process. This example of collaborative foresight is illustrated by RETRACE Interreg Europe project (A Systemic Approach for Transition towards a Circular Economy funded by the Interreg Europe), demonstrating how Systemic Design with a foresight vision can play a leverage effect in the transition of the European regions towards Circular Economy in a long-term horizon.
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