The purpose of Future Map is to create a shared view of industry trends in the recent past, present, and future. In the workshop, participants map key trends from the past year, the current year, and three years ahead. They then review the map, identify patterns and discuss the relevance of different trends. It is useful for supporting discussion and debate around high-level themes: society, technology, politics, etc.
Before the workshop make sure that you have a long empty wall with the area in front of it cleared. Divide the wall roughly into five equal sections with tape or put up five flipcharts.
At the top of each section (or flipchart) write with a thick marker: the last year, this year, and next year to three years in the future: e.g. 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019.
You now have a blank timeline to fill-in.
As this is a fast, often loud workshop, soft spoken or introverted participants may slip into the background, especially when the group is large. Be sure to encourage full participation by lifting the softer voices and encouraging those who have not participated.
Give each participant a marker and post-its.
Bring the group to stand in a horseshoe facing the wall. Explain the purpose of the workshop and give them the following instructions:
We will, as a group, co-create a vision of the future through the lens of the past and the present.
As individuals you will write significant “forces” (trends, technologies, political movements, behavioural shifts, etc.) on post-its: one per post-it. Then you’ll walk up to the wall and and stick it up, reading your post-its out loud as you go so the rest of the group can hear.
There’s no need to wait your turn. As soon as you have one, write it down and stick it up.
We’re aiming to fill the wall in the next 15 minutes.
Don’t overthink it too much. The aim is to get lots of different driving forces up on the wall.
The focus of the activity can be narrowed to focus on a specific theme or industry, for instance, only looking at technology trends, or trends in the fashion industry.
Start with last year, give them 3 minutes to fill the space with post-its, then move to this year, and then each subsequent year.
Support the group to keep the pace up and encourage everyone to participate. If you feel the speed is dragging, ask relevant questions or make suggestions to inspire the group. You can also throw in your own suggestions to spark the group’s thinking.
When the time is up keep the group in front of the wall. Ask them to look at the post-its on the wall and look for patterns and common themes in each year. If time allows, create subgroups and give them about 10 minutes to sort the trends under each year and prepare a summary of the key patterns.
Run a group reflection and discussion. Some good prompt questions could be:
- What patterns do we see looking at this timeline?
- Which trends are most important for myself and us to be aware of and learning more about?
- How do I feel about the past, present, and future?
- What does this mean for our team? Our company? Our industry? And my own role?
Wrap up the session by sharing some of the key themes that you heard throughout the discussion. Ask the group how they would like to capture their thoughts and actions to use in the future.
Close by inviting each participant to share one insight or action that they take with them from the workshop.