Holding a strategic foresight workshop is an insightful experience looking into the future. One of the joys of leading a workshop is the mix of individuals from various levels within an organization. This is necessary given the advanced rate of change the world is experiencing, top level leaders are not enough for preparing for the future (Weisbord, 1992). Navigation of the future is moving away from experts solving problems, towards everybody, experts included, contributing to futures understanding (Weisbord, 1992).
It is for this reason, the language easy to understand for everyone, regardless of their familiarity with future casting. Keeping everyone engaged is vital because the creation of foresight is really a product of many people’s vision, not just one or two people at the top levels of leadership (Bell & Tunnicliff, 1996). In the recent workshop I conducted, most attendees had little to no experience with futuring language or the process I took them through. For this reason, I was very mindful of the language I used to communicate to keep them engaged in the process. I focused on alleviating apprehension, fear, and negative attitudes by starting my presentation talking about the exciting adventure discovering and preparing for the future can be. It is also important that the videos and outside materials used have reachable language for a majority of the people in the room.
Along with using language that is understandable, it is important to use visually engaging and pleasing graphics and pictures throughout the presentation. In my case, I chose to use a trend map that was full of color, and acted as a treasure map of discovery for those who attended. Before beginning the exercise, I provided ten minutes of just looking at the map and allowing the attendees to explore the possibilities. Always being mindful of keeping everyone engaged.
Bell, M., & Tunnicliff, G. (1996). Future search for stakeholders. Management Development Review, 9(1), 13–16. http://doi.org/10.1108/09622519610181711
Mintzberg, H. (2013). Rise and fall of strategic planning. [Place of publication not identified]: Free Press.
Weisbord, M. R. (Ed.). (1992). Discovering common ground: how future search conferences bring people together to achieve breakthrough innovation, empowerment, shared vision, and collaborative action (1st ed). San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.