Teaching how to design values-driven futures
The Future Scouting approach
Future Scouting is a simplified approach to speculative and futures design with a focus on core values, life-centred thinking, and inclusivity, and aims to improve our current probable future by empowering others with a broader thinking about the future.
Much of the world’s design thinking is focused on profit-driven projects, creating a future world limited by this focus, encouraging people to buy stuff and do things that are killing the planet, hurting animals, and exploiting people in poverty.
If we invest even just a small amount of design focus on values-driven projects, then might we create a more harmonised and kinder future world?
Future Scouting aims to make values-driven futures design more ubiquitous, accessible, and intgerative by simplifying futures tools and processes.
“The actual limits of what is achievable depend in part on the beliefs people hold about what sorts of alternatives are viable.”
Eric Olin Wright—American sociologist and educator
Speculative design combines design thinking methods with the story-telling and future-world-building techniques of speculative fiction to produce prototypes of future products or experiences. These fantastic artefacts may be in the form of a physical or digital product, video, documentary, book, manual, website, sculpture or something else. Their purpose is to generate discussion, debate, and awareness beyond projected or plausible futures, so that people imagine and articulate their preferred futures.
Life-centred design (also known as ‘environment-centred design’ and ‘planet-centred design’) expands our mindset from purely human-centred creation to include consideration of sustainable, environmental, and social solutions.
Humans are gifted with the ability to conceptualise time, to learn from the past and imagine alternate futures.
Design is another gift that allows us to manifest a future we choose by understanding the impacts of what we do today.
Speculative and futures tools are scattered far and wide, and instructions can be heavy in new terminology and academic language. Future Scouting aims to condense designing futures into clear, simplified, and engaging process flows to make learning how to save the world fun.
Speculative design took form in the early 1990s as designers questioned their role in consumerism’s impact on the planet and began to consider how to align design with values. Future Scouting maintains the spirit of speculative design’s origins by grounding the method in designing for core values over profit by encouraging designers to know their own values.
To assist in designing with values, assumptions and bias kept in mind, Future Scouting has created the Futures Pixel.
There are at least 64 genders, 46 types of sexuality, over 3800 different cultures, more than 6900 languages, and at least 7 types of disabilities! The users of our products can be any combination of these, so we need to consider Inclusive Design.
The evolution of life-centred design (also known as ‘environment-centred design’ and ‘planet-centred design’) is expanding our mindset from purely human-centred creation to include consideration of sustainable economical, environmental, and social solutions.
We all have established opinions and automatic responses — some we are unaware of — affecting our thinking and behaviours. These assumptions can influence our designs and negatively impact users and the environment.
Future Scouting challenges us to know our assumptions and push our designs past our default perspectives.
Future Scouting encourages experimentation—evolve the tools, mix the methods, test with others, and re-share.