By Gitte Larsen
An experiment is, fundamentally, something you don't know the result of in advance. It is an attempt to discover new knowledge by proving or disproving. You try, in other words, to find new and better solutions. That was the experiment the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies conducted in its project, Problem Busters. Along with recognized creativity experts, we tried to solve a company's five most challenging problems in just 24 hours. The fashion company REDGREEN quickly signed on as the subject of the project. And, because the company was already in the middle of an exciting change process, it was easy to find five employees to take part, each with his or her own challenge to solve.
You probably know the drill: Some one asks you have had good experience with this or that. My answer is always "yes." Because no matter the result, you learn every time you try new methods, go through a process, or something else. That's my experience, anyway. And so it was with the experiment with REDGREEN. You can read much more about the form of the experiment, the ways we exchanged creative ideas, the use of a very different meeting room and, of course, come along as an eye witness. Not least, we have documented the 24-hour experiment in the photo series in this issue, which we hope you enjoy. You can also download a short video at www.cifs.dk
Most of us look at the future as an experiment. We don't know how it will turn out, but we will certainly learn something. We will have some things proven and others disproved. What those are, precisely, is of course what futures studies are about. But before something can be proven, you must, of course, consider how the future will, can, or ideally look like. Futures researchers talk about the three Ps: "the Predictable, the Possible, and the Preferred future." With the help of different creative tools - where scenarios are the most classic - you can open up new perspectives and opportunities. In the experiment with REDGREEN, we chose to tackle it unconventionally, but even so, the five REDGREEN employees worked with all three types of futures for the company. Their starting point was, in many ways, a desire to break with the probable future, because the wanted a new and better one. Like so many others, they had a hard time imagining and experimenting with alternative futures, until they got a creative push from the outside. Another central thing that struck me after the experiment was that all of REDGREEN's challenges were about creating better and durable relationships: with customers, employees, designers, and consumers. Doesn't it appear that relationships and interaction will be important themes of the future?
To do the right thing at the right time at the right place. We know when the timing is right and when it isn't. And if we could foresee when, how and where something would happen the next time, we would be in fine shape. We know that's impossible, and so we should be glad whenever perfect timing happens.
I hope you enjoy this late summer edition of FO/futureorientation. And look forward to the next issue, where we look at how the probable consequences of the future will affect you, with the theme Megatrends Matters.