For centuries we show our human spirit with stories about our glories,hopes, desires and dreams for a better future, one filled with modern machines that enable us to do things we long to do from being invisible or traveling in flying cars or telepods (may be not telepods as I always worried that something would go missing during the transmission). These stories manifested itself in art, comics, fictions, movies and even science discoveries.
What was known as “futurism” is the artistic movement that began in Italy and Russia that fast-forward us to the future of the machine age into progressive state of mind. Futurism also championed speed, technology, science, youth and also a lot of uncertainties. It's mantra was that the answers to humankind’s problems lay in the future driven by technology – and not the past. The main literary work of the movement was Filippo Tommaso Marinetti’s Futurist Manifesto, published in 1909, and generally considered the beginning of Futurism. I still enjoy reading that once in a while.
To invent the futures that we desire, business and government leaders need to see things in new ways that trigger their imagination to dream of new possibilities. Many of them are too "stuck" in the present. That’s when Design Thinking comes into play. Design Thinking is not just about understanding people's needs. It can also be used to bring people's imagination to propel us into the future. To see the future, Design Thinkers are equipped to creating guidepost for developing strategic foresight. It is called Future Casting.
Future Casting is how people from the past thought of the future. I remember visiting an exhibition in Prague where artists from the former USSR were imagining how the future was like with its futuristic art of space vehicles. Those Russian Futurists were fascinated with the optimism, speed, and restlessness of modern machines and urban life. They were actually performing Future Casting for the public.
I grew up watching Thunderbird and Ultramen and as a boy and they were the only things that were available for me that I could use as a guidepost for imagination. Funny enough, Ironman is like an unfinished prototype based on Ultraman design with the same battery problem. Ultraman highlighted the bottleneck of all technologies decades ago which is the battery. From iPhone to the latest Boeing 787 we still have not solved the battery problem.
We have always tried to look into the future and try to figure out what comes next. Sometimes we create fictions, fantasies of what may come. Will some of these fictions ultimately become real? There is no scientific evidence for this, I suspect the percentage of fiction becomes real is way higher that some thought our research based predictions that never made it close to become real. These materials open a window into the past and in term a perspective of the future… how the future should have been or their fears of how they were afraid it would turn out.
The realities of tomorrow are the fictions of today. If you want to have good strategic foresights, don’t hire designers or futurists. Hire Sci-Fi writers! And pair them up with behavioral economists and anthropologists and you will get good foresights.
The latest issue of MISC The Gadget Issue which has a special design feature Project 2020 about the future of sex, social and beauty. There is also the main feature How New Technologies With The Power To Evolve, Disolve, Disrupt and Democratie Industy which is fun to read. MISC is now in bookstores in 26 countries. And you can get it from Amazon too.