Transformative Foresight
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Transformative Foresight






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    Transformative Foresight Transformative Foresight Presentation Transcript

    • TRANSFORMATIVE FORESIGHT Learning with Futures @ OECD 22 January 2014 Philippe Vandenbroeck Partner, shiftN
    • Transformative foresight At the service of the messy business of transitioning complex socio-technical systems ... mobility energy ... under pressure food manufacturing
    • Now this has been standing here for centuries. The premier work of man perhaps in the whole western world and it’s without a signature: Chartres. - Orson Welles
    • CharChar Cathedral of our Lady of Chartres 1194-1250
    • There is nothing quite like Chartres ... •  One of the finest examples of French gothic architecture •  The first canonical embodiment of our definition of Gothic architecture as the conjunction of pointed arches, ribbed vaults and flying buttresses. •  At the time of its building, it had the tallest roof in the Western world (about 38 metres). •  Many structural innovations allowing for unprecedented scale and much greater area for window openings. The architecture is nothing but a frame for displays of stained glass. •  There is nothing quite like Chartres, partly because of the sheer quantity of glass, partly because of its special tonal quality. •  Its 176 original stained glass windows are the most complete set of medieval stained glass in the world. •  Chartres was one of the great centres of medieval learning, long before universities were created. Length: 130 metres Width: 32 metres / 46 metres Nave: height 37 metres; width 16.4 metres Ground area: 10,875 square metres Height of south-west tower: 105 metres Height of north-west tower: 113 metres 176 stained-glass windows Choir enclosure: 200 statues in 41 scenes
    • Question How do you envisage that this extraordinary innovation came into being, knowing that ... •  ... no original plans have been found; •  ... the name(s) of the architect(s) have not been transmitted; •  ... there was no common method of measurement, no scientific knowledge of structural mechanics.
    • The 'blueprint' hypothesis Branner: "Although it may be difficult for us to imagine nowadays, when sketchbook and pencil are the architect's vade mecum, the habit of thinking out a design, even down to the details, was perfectly normal when there was no strong tradition of drawing." Page from travel sketchbook Villard de Honnecourt master builder 1225-1250
    • The 'non-blueprint' hypothesis •  Turnbull: "Cathedrals were comparable to modern laboratories in three important ways: –  their very construction constituted a series of fullscale experiments. –  they were spaces where local, tacit and messy knowledge/practices were transformed into a coherent tradition. –  Cathedrals were powerful loci of learning and social transformation, absorbing large amounts of capital and concentrating resources, skills and labour.
    • So how can you build things that the world has never seen before? •  Exchange: ongoing interaction between patron, masons and other craftsmen. •  Exemplars: life-sized drawings as templates for stone cutters, allowing for mass-production and incremental building tactics. •  Expertise: a set of geometric rules of thumb derived from a craftsman-like practice, passed on from master to apprentice. •  Experiment: a cathedral is like a building made of playing cards, each section leaning on others in some sort of equilibrium. Much of the building process of the gothic cathedrals was innovative and experimental. •  Exaltation: resources expended on the building are seen as honouring God, and served also demonstrate both the devotion, status and power of the patrons.
    • "The structure of the cathedrals results from the combination of factors. They all interact as a whole to produce a particular form. The 'Gothic Style' as such was not in the minds of the cathedral builders ..." D. Turnbull, 'Masons, Tricksters and Cartographers'
    • The ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN: "Mapping the secrets of the universe"
    • The LHC: the most complex and expensive scientific experimental facility ever built. With its sister experiment CMS ATLAS endeavoured to detect the Higgs boson. On 4 July 2012 ATLAS reported evidence for the particle's existence, capping a 40-year search. The ATLAS detector: weighs as much as the Eiffel Tower, 10 million functional elements. ATLAS had to achieve fundamental breakthroughs in three interrelated technological areas: 1) never-achieved collision energy and luminosity, 2) unparallelled event detection rates, and 3) data acquisition and processing to match. •  The guiding magnets operate at a temperature of -271°C. •  The pressure inside the LHC is 10-13 atmosphere, 1/10 of the pressure on the moon. •  LHC takes 40 million snapshots per second, each with an image resolution of 100 megapixels. ATLAS involved 3.000 scientists, spread across 173 institutes, in 38 countries.
    • Chartres builders and ATLAS physicists faced similar challenges. "Turning ATLAS into a reality was akin to putting together a non-linear, multi-dimensional puzzle of interdependent pieces brought together on the basis of fluid and changeable concepts rather than stable and delineated patterns." –  Jenni, Nordberg and Boisot, 2011. photo:  Ma)hew  Clemente,  Flickr   photo:  Claudia  Marcelloni,  CERN  
    • What the ATLAS collaboration avoided ... •  Complex governance: the collaboration is guided by a 7-page MoU. •  Top-down hierarchy: there is no CEO, only a 'spokesperson'. •  A masterplan: the Technical Proposal contained an embryonic concept with myriads of design options left open.
    • What the ATLAS collaboration did ... •  Destination: hold on to a clear and unchanging objective:  finding the Higgs. •  Decentralisation: implement an project adhocracy based on decentralisation of technical and financial risks. •  Deliberation: cultivate emergent technical leadership through a continuous review process guided by rational justification and consensual choice of design options. •  Diffusion: cultivate an interlaced information metabolism, leading to ongoing reconfiguration, recontextualisation and collective internalisation of available knowledge. •  Dispersal: Cultivate inclusiveness on a large scale by collectivising prestige and honouring the norms and values of the scientific community.
    • Creating breakthroughs in a setting of irreducible uncertainty: lessons learned •  Clear vision, strong values. •  1st class technical expertise. •  No masterplan. Fluid design trajectory, keeping options open, hands-on experiments. •  Decentralisation of work streams and accountability. •  Intense information flow, boundary objects, learning.
    • Another take on the same story: optionality optionality = asymmetry + rationality Nassim Nicholas Taleb The mechanism of 'convex tinkering' (i.e. fail fast, or trial-and-error: low-cost mistakes, with known maximum losses and large potential payoff.
    • Rationality ≠ intelligence "If you have optionality, you do not have much need for what is commonly called intelligence, knowledge, insight. For you don't have to be right that often. All you need is the wisdom to not do unintelligent things to hurt yourself and recognise favourable outcomes when they occur." - N.N. Taleb
    • Effectuation:  creating ventures in unknowable spaces 4 simple heuristics Saras Sarasvathy Start with your means Focus on downside risk Leverage contingencies Form partnerships
    • Can we imagine that this is how great cathedrals came into being? Copyright © The Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia:
    • Transformative foresight At the service of the messy business of transitioning complex socio-technical systems ... mobility energy ... under pressure food manufacturing
    • How can foresight contribute? epistemologies scenario development, roadmapping, horizon scanning, forecasting methodologies scenarios, systems maps, models, early indicators tools
    • What we have learned from Chartres and ATLAS: an epistemology of transformative foresight a non-causal,  non-intelligence driven ethos of shaping complexity epistemologies scenario development, roadmapping, horizon scanning, forecasting methodologies scenarios, systems maps, models, early indicators tools
    • 'Energiewende': Transforming the energy system of the fourth largest economy in the world
    • A multidimensional puzzle ... New building/urban concepts Behavioural change New fiscal/financial instruments Alternative mobility systems New energy infrastructure New information management concepts Alternative power sources
    • High stakes, far away time horizon, irreducible uncertainty, ... •  2011: Fukushima and the new 'Energiekonzept'. Broad political consensus for a radical reform. •  1987-1990: parliamentary commission on climate change uses a turnaround scenario. •  2003: WBGU landmark report "Energy turnaround •  1980s: Multitude of energy for sustainability". turnaround scenarios. •  1980: term 'energy turnaround' is coined. 1980 1990 Energiewende timeline •  1998: energy turnaround scenario becomes official government policy. 2000 2010 2020 "We have to be very clear that today´s technology will only carry us for the next ten or fifteen years. (...) We are right now extrapolating today´s technology in a pretty linear fashion. You never know what kind of disruptive technologies will show up in between." 2050 Prof. Frank Behrendt (TUBerlin, Acatech)
    • Again: how can foresight contribute?
    • Again: how can foresight contribute? Make explicite normative biases & systems view Articulate, envision shared goals Create trust in multistakeholder settings Identify weak signals, unknown unknowns Cement partnerships Support the 'planning as learning' process 'Windtunnel' strategic options
    • Transition governance:  the art of goal-directed incrementalism A theory and practice of 'managing' as searching, experimenting and learning Visioning Alliance building Learning Experimenting
    • Foresight at the 'fuzzy front-end' systems thinking + dialogue + 'design thinking'   thinking  'big picture' embracing the normative rapid prototyping thinking interdependences cultivating  contingency abductive thinking thinking  leverage points building social capital imagineering
    • Thank you for your attention