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Conversations about the Future


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An overview of a new framework under development to design ways to have conversations about the future that are people-centred, and have collaborative processes at their core.

Published in: Leadership & Management
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Conversations about the Future

  1. 1. Conversations about the Future Maree Conway Thinking Futures Melbourne, Australia
  2. 2. People create the future Thinking about the future is not a ‘thing’ – it happens in people’s minds. The ‘future’ as idea, image, story, anticipation. Becomes ‘real’ when we talk about it – language as social construction (Fuller and Loogma, 2009).
  3. 3. Radical Imagination (Haiven & Khasnabish 2014) • “… an analytical category of sociological process … that creates a shared landscape of possibility and contestation.” • “… emerges from and guides collective doing.”
  4. 4. IntegralTheory (Wilber 2000) Integral Theory is complex, multi- faceted, well researched (Esbjorn- Hargens 2010) and contentious (Meyerhoff, 2010; Gidley 2010). Draws together what Wilber determined were useful insights from all major areas of human knowledge and to “honour all truths and acknowledge the value of many different ways of knowing across all significant fields” (Slaughter 2004).
  5. 5. Integral Futures Developed by Richard Slaughter based on Ken Wilber’s work on Integral Theory (2000 and many more). “The entire external world is constantly held together by interior structures of meaning and value” (Slaughter 2012).
  6. 6. Individual Consciousness Culture Organisational Behaviour Social Systems & Structures
  7. 7. Conversation Prerequisite What I do Desired Outcomes Upper Left: Conversations with self Willingness to commit time and space to think – regular and non-negotiable Mentoring, Coaching Training/Webinars Deeper understanding of futures literacy and agency, reframe ‘my’ thinking Lower Left: Conversations about culture Willingness to be open to the outcomes, willing to make the ‘elephant in the room’ visible Interviews, observation of processes, culture mapping (Enthesos - u/our-approach) Looking for organisational DNA, ideas about what the organisation is and what it does – both constraining and enabling openness to the future Upper Right: Conversations about foresight processes Willingness to move beyond conventional strategic planning and the certainty it provides Co-design processes with people to match context – and push the boundaries a little sometimes Collaborative, inclusive process with all staff having opportunity to be involved - no information ‘quarantine’ Lower Right: Conversations about the social environment Willingness to move beyond ‘what we know we know’ and ‘what we know we don’t know’ – always varies depending on organisation Co-design horizon/ environmental scanning process Training/Webinars Futures focused scan, at least 10 years into the future, designed to provoke thinking not to provide answers
  8. 8. Work in progress Conversation framework developed earlier this year. A work in progress.
  9. 9. • Sean Esbjorn-Hargens (2010) Integral Theory in Action, State University of New York. • Jenny Gidley (2010) An other view of integral futures: De/reconstructing the IF Brand, Futures 42(2) 125-133. • Ted Fuller & Krista Loogma, Constructing Futures: A Social Constructionist Perspective on Foresight Methodology, Futures, 41 71-79. • Max Haiven & Alex Khasnabish (2014) The Radical Imagination: Social Movement Research in the Age of Austerity, Zed Books. • Jeanne Liedtka (2011) Beyond Business Strategy: Strategy as Experienced, Rotman Magazine, Winter, 29-33. • Jeff Meyerhoff (2010) Bald Ambition: A Critique for Wilber’s Theory of Everything, Inside the Curtain Press. • Martin Rhisiart, Riel Miller & Simon Brooks, Learning to Use the Future: Developing Foresight Capabilities Through Scenario Processes, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 101(1) 124- 133. • Richard Slaughter (2004) Futures Beyond Dystopia, Routledge. • Ken Wilber (2000) A Theory of Everything, Shambhala.
  10. 10. Get in touch • Maree Conway • Thinking Futures, Melbourne Australia • Web: • Email: