Futures Design

By carefully considering multiple possible futures, we can develop strategic plans for the years ahead, and respond to the VUCA era with greater foresight.

Today's corporate environment is characterized by an increased uncertainty often referred to as the VUCA age. It is an environment where the future becomes increasingly difficult to anticipate, and staying ahead of the competition involves a long-term view of the future and a strategic approach to sustainable growth, rather than relying on market trends and technical advances. mct can help companies sort through the possible futures to identify plausible desired futures, by envisioning possible scenarios based on signals of changing values. 

Future-focused strategic thinking is foundational to building a sustainable competitive advantage and identifying opportunities earlier. With design thinking and scenario planning in the development of future strategies, companies are able to respond to VUCA with greater flexibility and foresight. 

Insights about the future through "signals"

Futures Design collects trends and signals to understand how values are changing. Signals are precursors to established trends, whose value and impact we may not yet realize. By including our focus on analyzing such items, we can explore possible directions of future scenarios. Sometimes a common direction can emerge from signals coming from different areas. Without being constrained by boundaries of different fields or preconceptions, we take an open, broad perspective to glean emerging insights around what is happening in the world today.


Imagining the future

Insights point to a novel vision for the ways things could be, new ideas, solutions, products, strategies, and even fantastical scenarios of the future may emerge. Insights create the foundation for imagining the future for a project, organization, sector, industry, or physical place in the world. Facing the uncertainty of the future, in which many things are possible, developing scenarios upon insights gives strategic foundation for action. This serves as a provisional compass for avoiding unwanted scenarios and taking action towards the future we seek.


Process & Approach

Our approach to Futures Design is based on a design thinking approach of repeated divergence and convergence. By exploring trends and signals of the future, we can identify insights that may shape the future, and then exploring scenarios that could describe different futures, we can generate items that describe challenges and goals of future consumers.



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Step 1.
Collect signals, understand trends, and gain insights


Conduct a kick-off session to confirm project objectives, design the process after organizing existing data, and determine the scope of data collection required. We often use STEEPV (Social, Technological, Environmental, Economic, Political, Values) framework to structure data collection. Project members find the "signals of change" that lead from the present to the future, discussing with each other to, inspiring each other to skillfully scan more widely.  It's important also to be aware that by speculating on the future, we are in a way also creating the future. Even as researchers, we are actors in creating a desired future. By analyzing the theme with the STEEPV framework, we can also identify areas with high social impact.


Step 2.
Create future scenarios


In this conceptual phase, futures are imagined and fleshed out based on logical extension of the data collected. Futures Design is not about confirming predetermined future, or defining a future for risk preparation, but thinking about realistic, discontinuous, exciting, and provocative futures based on seeds of change, to help new ways of looking at things around us, and to provoke constructive debate and conflict within the company.


Step 3.
Determine directions of the future


The "projected future" that is simply an extension of the present is already the focus for most people. With the help of the Future Cone, we can expand our view to also consider "probable futures", "plausible futures", "possible futures", and even "preposterous futures". Within these, we can also consider what our "desired future" would be.


Step 4.


Modern companies that seem to grow by leaps and bounds, such as Google and Tesla, typically have an MTP helping them navigate uncertain environments.  For example, Netflix has an MTP of "entertaining people around the world" and hasbeen able to fully realize this. When Netflix was founded in 1997, going to the video rental store was the norm, but Reed Hastings felt the hassle of renting and returning DVDs was unnecessary, and launched the industry's first home-delivery DVD service. In 2007, the company turned their attention to streaming services. Although internet connections at the time were insufficient, Netflix anticipated not only the arrival of higher-speed connections, but also the implications this would have. With their ability to identify and navigate massive shifts, along with a guiding MTP, Netflix has been able to make powerful moves successfully.