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站在前往多樣未來之門的觀察和沈思 」_ 一趟思考未來之旅工作坊參後感:(宋玫玫教授主講、朝邦文教基金會、淡江大學策略遠見研究中心主辦)

 

文化事業學會台灣分會董事 Lawrence (Larry) Philbrook 撰寫

 

「如果你想要帶動人心,就得提出一個願景,一個他們視為正向的,讓他們活出重要價值,並且能讓他們得到想要的願景。同時,你必須令他們有所信服,才能激發他們追隨你。」~馬丁。路德。金恩

 

我很高興能在三月四-五日,與35位夥伴一同學習「未來思考」,而課程的重心,在於轉化我們對未來的認知,將未來視為非固定並且不斷開展的過程。

 

如果我們希望對未來做好積極應對的準備,我們必須透過更縝密的高層次思考,培養出能夠想像多種方向和結果的能力。我非常感謝宋玫玫與謝尚賢兩位教授,透過未來思考的概念和核心架構, 帶領我們探索多種未來的面貌。我也想藉這個機會,感謝淡江大學策略遠見研究中心提供場地,讓我們可以展開這樣的對話。

 

我先針對策略規劃和未來思考的共同點和相異性,做些概要的說明。策略規劃是一種過程,可以帶領個人、機構、或社區邁向未來。我服務的機構, 文化事業學會(ICA), 以參與式策略規劃聞名,並經常與世界各地的團體合作。未來思考則著重於可能情境的擴展,以便於團體透過更完整的,「可能未來」的樣貌,進行規劃. 

 

殼牌石油公司等企業及團體,還有澳洲、新加坡、荷蘭、芬蘭等國家,都早已成立研究未來的相關部門,透過定期檢視未來的程序,訂定更有效的長遠計畫。

 

那麼,這要如何實際來操作?我以一個多年前在文化事業學會(ICA)的個案為例。ICA在台灣以及亞洲地區的同事,採用史瓦芝「遠見的藝術」和聖吉的「第五項修練 -- 學習型組織的藝術與實務」的研究,協助殼牌石油和其他公司的主管,為多種未來的可能性預作準備。

 

在1993年,我對未來思考過程曾有過完整的體會。當時我為台灣一家公司,提供2003年未來發展的四種情境模擬。這是一場為期六個月的計畫,為了讓主管察覺公司的競爭力在哪, 以及設想可能遇到的最理想和最糟糕的情境。1997年,這家公司果真面臨了曾經模擬過的情境之一。因為有未來思考的引導,相較於其他競爭者,他們能更迅速地針對議題和挑戰進行評估,並且馬上套用相應的對策。這份「親身經歷」 的體驗,讓他們能採用事先準備好的應對措施。這就是未來思考的力量。當我們允許自己對未來進行多樣化的想像時,我們也更能從容地看待任何可能發生的事情,尤其當團隊的想法已有相當程度的默契, 我們甚至能立即採取部分的行動。

 

對於這場引導的經驗,我對自己感到相當滿意,我的客戶也非常開心。這個經驗證明,在進行策略規劃之前,事先做未來思考和情境的模擬,能發揮莫大的力量和效能。 事後我們也的確做了一份策略規劃,發現不僅成效卓著,而且該公司及參與同仁,都認為這次的經驗是成功的。

 

就在策略不斷開展的同時,不論在當時是多麼的有效,隨著世事的瞬息萬化和時間的飛逝,其他無法掌握的因素也隨之出現,繼而對組織和國家現況造成相當程度的衝擊。

 

在當時,這是個非常成功的案例。然而,在參加宋教授的工作坊之後,我意識到,當時引導的過程中,我無意間對他們的未來思考活用性有所設限。我現在回想起來,我當時應該還能給予他們更多開展想像的協助。

 

很多時候,我和多數人一樣,傾向站在今天的視角,去看待我們的未來。這通常以三種方式呈現:

  • 參考別人的,或重複自己正在走的路(二手未來)
  • 不願承認可能發生的未來,因為我們怕那是重複過去,或可能不是有價值的未來(疏離的未來)
  • 有太多選擇,所以感到茫然又不知所措(多樣未來)

 

上述的每一項,事實上都是陷阱。今天,我們活在一個變化多端,不可能只有單一未來的世界。我們眼前的未來,是每天不斷開展的,因著多重的優勢和劣勢,挑戰和機會的交集,既全球又在地化,是同時屬於個人,又為人類共有的 。我有個客戶,每當我們共事,他都請我協助他進行願景作業,因為他的機構,市場和世界所面臨的現況,是如此的千變萬化,因而他們的願景也必須不斷的跟著演進。

 

我們在宋教授的工作坊學到,儘管我們不知「未來」的模樣,只要願意,我們是能夠掌握多種可能的未來的。深刻明暸這點,有助於放下對錯,或已知未知等兩極思考,並且更願意敞開胸襟,探索多樣的面向, 其中或許還包含一份可能的未來。在這個過程中,我們「未來的思維」也跟著演化。

 

我們經由對未來學,六個核心架構(MATDCT)的探索,為未來思考的理論提供一份基礎:勾勒未來, 預期未來, 定義未來時間, 深化未來, 創造不同選擇, 轉化未來

 

  1. 勾勒未來 --呈現過去,現在和未來。藉由畫上時間點,我們對於打從哪來,又要往哪去,會有更清晰的認識。
  2. 預期未來 -- 對我們而言,什麼會是可能發生的?
  3. 定義時間未來 -- 未來將可能如何展開?
  4. 深化未來 -- 試著用多元的觀點,並且認真的檢視,自己如何體認那份可能的未來。
  5. 創造不同選擇 -- 這就是我在先前的引導經驗,所提出的情境,讓「假使...發生...」的可能性多樣化。
  6. 轉化未來 -- 去選擇我們認為,對於未來發展是最好的層面,並探討如何使其成真。

 

我認為,這是未來思考和策略思考/規劃最大的差別 -- 未來思考的主旨為,藉著想像多種未來的可能性,能先未雨綢繆,同時清楚的看見,未來是無法掌握的; 假使哪一天,我認為我對未來能夠抱持一種確定性,這種心態,很有可能是為了抓住那確定感本身的自我欺騙。在一個國家裡,或身為一個領導人,我們要如何看到完整未來的情境,以利於我們所樂見的未來,更有實現的可能,才是當務之急。

 

首先,領導人該要為現況下個定義; 表達感謝,則是最後的事。在這兩者之間,領導人的身份就是個臣僕。」~ 麥克斯.帝普雷

 

透過未來思考,我對情境視野的角度,已經從3-5年的策略規劃,擴充至20或30 年後,想像我(們)將身處何處。昨天,我聽到一個喜劇演員說:「我沒看到全球暖化這事啊,所以我想,會有其他人去解決吧。」未來這件事,讓我們身處在一個無可避免,並且面貌多端的衝擊點上。有些未來是正面的,又有些是充滿毀滅性,或帶來痛苦的; 事實是,我們只能做假設,而根本無法「得知」當時候來臨時,我們將會採取哪些決定?突然間,站著「現在」這一端,我有非常不同的感受。

 

最後,我想藉助工作坊一開始進行,對1985-2017-2037年的想像和對話的遊戲,做個總結。我想請你在每一個時間點,跟自己進行一場對話。對於任何一個時間點,你認為什麼是「重要的?」你會對當時的自己說什麼?會問些什麼?只要我們開始想像可能的未來這件事,就足以幫助我們擴張意識,延伸對於更多未來的想像。

 

再次感謝宋教授的教導和淡江、朝邦團隊的服務。

 

 

CP Yen Foundation Newsletter, March 2017

“Standing at the entrance to multiple futures and taking notes”

A reflection on a journey into the future with MeiMei Song

 

hosted by the CP Yen Foundation and CFAR Tamkang University Tanshui Taiwan

by Lawrence Philbrook, ICA Taiwan

 

 "If you want to move people, it has to be toward a vision that's positive for them, that taps important values, that gets them something they desire, and it has to be presented in a compelling way that they feel inspired to follow." -- Martin Luther King

 

I had the pleasure  on March, 4-5th  to work with about 35 others on Futures Thinking.  The focus was on shifting our conversation from a perception of “the future” to an understanding that the future is unfolding and not fixed. 

 

Yet if we wish to be ready and do more than react we need to develop our capacity to imagine pathways and consequences from a more complex perspective. I really appreciated the sharing of MeiMei Song and her colleague Patrick Hsueh as they led us through an exploration of the concepts and pillars involved in stepping into and looking around possible futures. I would also mention that I appreciated the space and effort of the Center for Futures Intelligence and Research at TamKang University to support our dialogue.

 

The distinction and overlap between strategic planning and futures thinking may be helpful to mention.  Strategic planning is the process by which an organization, individual or community creates a pathway to the future my organization the Institute of cultural Affairs is well known for our PSP (Participatory Strategic Planning) which we do with groups around the world.  The purpose of futures thinking is to expand the context so that the group can plan based on a more complete story of what is possible.

Many organizations like Shell Oil; and several countries like Australia, Singapore, Finland and the Netherlands have established systems to include Futures work on a regular basis to establish more effective long term planning processes.

 

How does it work?  Let me use a small example from my own practice, many years ago with using scenarios in our facilitation work.  ICA Taiwan and our colleagues across Asia based our research on Peter Schwartz, The Art of the Long View and Peter Senge’s 5th Discipline to explore the work on the use by Shell Oil and others to help managers and leaders place themselves into several future options to prepare for whatever happens.

 

My first full experience was in working with a company in Taiwan in 1993 to facilitate the creation of 4 possible scenarios for their organization in 2003.  It was a 6-month long project involving teams discerning driving forces and best and worst case scenarios.  In 1997, a situation happened very like one of their scenarios and because of the work two things happened very quickly, they assessed the issue/challenge more quickly than their competitors and therefore could put into place specific strategies quickly.  They experienced that they “been here before” and could use a version of their prepared options.  This is the power of Futures Thinking if we allow ourselves to imagine diversity whatever happens we are more open to it and if something we thought of was extremely aligned some of the actions may even be applicable.

 

I was proud of this experience and my client was very happy.  This demonstrated the power and effectiveness of bringing in Futures work before they created their Strategic Plan.  We did do a strategic plan and after the scenarios and the implementation was very effective and was deemed successful by the organization and teams involved. 

 

However even while strategies unfold so does the dynamic changes around us and over time no matter how effective the strategy other things begin to appear and impact the organizational and national reality.

 

The project was very successful and I realized over the weekend how unintentionally I had made the approach limiting for them. I could have done more to help them imagine options. 

 

My tendency and our tendency is to think of the future from standing in our today, we tend to frame the future in three ways:

•       Looking at the path of others or as a repeat of our current journey (Used Past)

•       Denying that what might be coming because we are afraid it will be like a past experience or that it might represent something we devalue (Disowned Future)

•       Lots of choices so we just don't know and are overwhelmed (alternative futures)

 

Each of these is in fact a trap.  We are living in a time of such dynamic change that there is never one future ahead of us but one unfolding every day based on multiple strengths and weaknesses, issues and opportunities, global and local, personal and collective.  One of my clients asks me to do a vision every time we work together because their organization, market and reality is changing so much that their vision is always evolving.

 

What MeiMei helped us work with is that while we do not know “the future” we know a lot about possible futures if we allow ourselves to think about it. Realizing this helps us let go of being right or wrong or what we know or do not know and instead to open ourselves to exploring diverse possibilities each of which might have an aspect of the future within it.  In the process our Mindset of Futures evolves

 

We explored six pillars of futures studies to provide a grounding for the theory of futures thinking.  The pillars (MATDCT) are: mapping, anticipation, timing,

deepening, creating alternatives and transforming.

 

1.     Mapping -- past, present and future are mapped. By mapping time, we become clearer on where we have come from and where we are going.

2.     Anticipation – What do we see as possible?

3.     Timing – How might the future unfold?

4.     Deepening – Taking perspectives and examining the sense and feel of that possible future

5.     Creating alternatives – this is the level of scenarios that I shared from my experience – Diverse what if?

6.     Transforming – Choosing what we feel is the best aspects and exploring how to make them more possible

 

This is I think the most significant distinction between futures thinking and strategic thinking/planning – the purpose of futures thinking is to imagine diversity as a way to prepare and to clarify that I will never be sure and that whenever I think I am sure of the future I may be hiding something from myself for the sake of certainty.  As a leader or as a nation how do we allow the largest context for the future to be seen so that the particular future we choose has a better chance of happening. 

 

“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.”  –Max De Pree

 

Futures thinking expands my context from soon to long term, from a 3-5-year strategy to an image of where I / we might be in 20 or 30 years.  I was watching a comedian yesterday who said I don't see global warming so I figure someone else will deal with it.  Futures is placing us in a time where the impact is inescapable and diverse, some impact is positive and some destructive or painful and the fact is we do not “know” we only suppose. What choices will we make at that point?  Standing in the now suddenly feels different.

 

I would end as we began the program think of 1985 – 2017 – 2037.  Please have a conversation with yourself in each of those moments in time.  What would you say about the time that is “important”?  What message would you give?  What question would you ask?  By even beginning to imagine possible futures we expand our sense of the futures that may unfold.

 

Thank you again MeiMei and the organizing teams.                                                                                   

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