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Using stories to see the future

December 7, 2010

GBN's Technology Scenarios

Living in a real-time world, the future seems to be happening in front of our eyes at such a dizzying pace, it’s tough to make sense of it all.

GBN is a Northern California think-tank that’s been making sense of the future for decades. They were even consultants on movie “The Minority Report” and came up with many of the ideas for the technology that’s in the movie. I guess they saw gestural computing and touch-screens before any one else.

The way they come up with their thinking is through a technique they call “Scenario Planning”. it was developed by GBN founder, Peter Schwartz back when he worked at Shell and used to predict the first oil crisis in the early 70s.

The graphic above is from a report commissioned by The Rockefeller Foundation from GBN to examine the impact of technology on international development.

No one knows what the future holds, so pretending you do is worthless, but it’s also foolish for corporations and institutions to ignore the future.

Scenario Planning is a way to create a framework for a conversation about the issues by exploring and delivering a number of potential futures.

With each possible future, GBN creates narratives that look 20 years ahead and personas for specific “actors”.

The scenarios that follow are not meant to be exhaustive—rather, they are designed to be both plausible and provocative, to engage your imagination while also raising new questions  for you about what that future might look and feel like.”

In this report, you can see GBN has looked at the angles that surround the issues of technology today that include; privacy, control, collaboration, interaction, hacking, security threats, hacking and DIY.

While not many of us have the luxury or even the need to think 20 years ahead for our clients, there’s no reason why, we shouldn’t be creating short-term scenarios, given how unpredictable the short-term future is.

Posted by Ed Cotton

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