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Megatrends & Futures Studies Resources - My read list

Manoj Kothari, June 19, 2021



If you are done with Design Thinking as a method to get you initiated into the world of innovation and creative thinking, the domain of megatrends and futures studies awaits you. An esoteric science earlier limited to a selected band of practitioners is now slowly gaining steam. While I started learning and practicing this in the Indian market as early as 2005-06 (when several global consumer brands were setting foot in India/firming up their operations i.e. Volkswagen, Samsung etc.), it is only since the last year (2019-2020), there is a significant uptick in our projects funnel on this topic. It is not just the pandemic but also rising global confidence and wealth amongst the Indian corporates can be attributed to this nascent interest. One can say that where Design Thinking was ten years back from now, the field of Futures Studies, is there now. Very soon, the business gurus who found their data analytics skills inadequate in face of 'empathy maps' would have to dive into colossal field of futures thinking. Early signs that things are about to get interesting.

I am putting down here my read list that I found useful. Right now, no specific order, but I plan to keep it updated regularly. A rising domain also needs a thriving community - so happy to connect with those launching on this journey or advanced practitioners putting their bets on 'next big things' beyond cliched 'emerging-tech' list.

1. https://www.futureagenda.org/ says it is a opensource thinktank (more like a consortium)

2. Futuresplatform.com SaS based trends mapping tool. Those planning on mapping emerging trends, can get kick-started by their collection of trends laid out on the platform. Costly subscription though.

3. Marketopportunities.fi Govt of Finland curates this content. Turian Labs has worked on several reports on emerging trends and future opportunities in India for them and all those report, along with extensive future scans of several other countries are uploaded here.

4. afp.org (association of professional futurists). There are a lot of video talks from their annual futures fest (on Vimeo).

5. cifs.dk (Copenhagen Institute of Future Studies) a known name in studying futures. We had organised India Insight 2007 with in collaboration with them. They also have an online course on Futures-

6. Great overview of emerging technologies - Keynote video. by Matthew Griffin (from video of 3D printing a nuclear reactor to meat grown in a lab from a live animal). But is the future only about technologies?

7. Why should you switch to trends driven business strategy, a good write up from Trend Watching website (one of the known global firms in trend spotting). Larger content is behind the pay wall but free stuff itself is good enough to get you started on your trend spotting journey. They collate the trend-indicators from a network of trend-spotters across the world. You can subscribe to their free trend-feed, which is pretty good.

8. Futuribles- some scholastic introductions to scenarios. 2x2 method of scenario writing with good examples and process details

9. India centric future scenarios of 2030 by World Economic Forum

11. Kaspersky is a company into cyber security. This seems to be their leap into the plausible futures (2030, 2040, 2050) collected from several experts across the industry. Dedicated website and links thereon.

10. An good prototype example of speculative Design: A flypaper clock- that eats bees and runs on the energy generated through it

12. Podcast by an Indian designer (head of design team of WNS ) Suneet Pansare speaking about Speculative Design, Design Fiction, User centric Design and everything in between, at large. He does lose steam on some questions but provides a good landscape of the topic.

13. Sci-fi protos Interaction Design lessons from Science Fiction and the website scifiinterfaces.com explores how sci-fi and interface design in the real world relate to each other by Chris Noessel.

14. Great write up on Scenario Planning methods (2x2 matrix) with a corresponding video format for three methods of scenario planning. and worksheets for download

15.Three scenarios of China, written in 2016, playing out now - one of them, not the author's favourite though.

16. Futures thinking in drafting policies, from the office of prime minister of New Zealand and a host of links to Futures Thinking

17. Our own website can be a good start for those joining the trends wagon late. Tells you what is a trend and how to spot it, map it and use it in the corporate parlance. Has link to several introductory videos in different forums.

18. Series of blogs as primer on metaverse by Matthew Ball.

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