Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Scenarios: designing probable, preferable and plausible futures

What do designers who make use of scenarios methods need to know about the history of this practice? In a recent talk, Angela Wilkinson, director of scenarios and futures research at the James Martin Institute, gave an overview of the history of scenarios – in her view not just limited to the 20th and 21st centuries but evident too in practices such as reading animal entrails and making maps. Wilkinson divided up scenarios into three schools: the US school emerging from military R&D trying to create probable scenarios to get policymakers to “think the unthinkable”; the French school aiming to envisage and design preferable futures; and the Shell school generating plausible scenarios – her own background – drawing on ideas of conversation, reperceiving and focus.

Other talks in this series include Rafael Ramirez (Said Business School) and BettySue Flowers (LB Johnson Presidential Library).My particular interest will be to see where the emergence in some design consultancies of making artefacts “from the future” as a way of exploring scenarios fits in.

No comments: