*Jörn Bühring, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Honk Kong
Peter Jones, OCAD in full please, Canada
Peter Scupelli, Carnegie Mellon University, USA
Peter Bishop, University of Houston, USA
*contact: joern.buehring@polyu.edu.hk

Global changes in the 21st century appear intractable as social, technological and environmental trends force the contemporary organization to address these uncertainties in vision and strategic direction (Vecchiato, 2012). Enterprises across nearly all sectors of the globalized economy must adapt competitive strategies to anticipate specific political, resource, and market uncertainties that could impact expected growth and broader social benefits (Wilkinson, Mayer, & Ringler, 2014). Yet the inclusion of strategic foresight within product and service design projects has yet to reach its potential in business enterprises.

Given the uncertainties these often-cited global trends impose, why are decision makers not relying on strategic foresight to inform design decisions and service development? The most popular business design processes continue to be decidedly short-term reasoning practices: Agile, Lean, and Design Thinking are at least three problematic methodologies that might repel or constrain the uptake of serious futures anticipation. Business foresight practices are commonly relegated to strategy development, thereby informing business models and competitive strategy, but not necessarily the productive design capacity of the enterprise.

While design often addresses complex business problems for today’s world and the immediate future, strategic foresight develops alternative scenarios for the futures in which these solutions will exist. Scholars and educators in these core fields are devoting increased attention to the question the most effective organizational process or fit for successful, actionable long-horizon strategies (Bishop, Hines, & Collins, 2007; Heskett, 2009; Rohrbeck, Battistella, & Huizingh, 2015; Slaughter, 2002).

The track invites research that explores design practice cases presenting significant integration or effective processes of strategic foresight in constructing a stakeholders’ perspective on capability development and the transformation of design, which is ever more extending its reach beyond the object into areas such as e.g. Design for Social Change, and Design Policy. Specifically, we will seek advanced cases and emerging practices demonstrating futures thinking and strategic foresight in Design and Innovation Management in handling environmental (macro-business) uncertainty, especially where deeper or longer-term anticipation has proven effective in radical or unexpected design-led innovation.

Foresight practices might range from the inclusion of horizon scans and long-term trend mapping, to scenario and narrative construction to inform radical innovations, to speculative design fiction to influence design capability proposals. We encourage design researchers to demonstrate how “Design with Foresight” addresses complex design decision making and future design strategy, and where deeper or longer-term anticipation has proven effective in radical or unexpected strategic design decision-making (Buehring & Liedtka, 2018; Hines & Zindato, 2016).

This track seeks to address, but is not limited to the following questions:

  • What role can strategic foresight play in enhancing design decision-making?
  • Does strategic foresight in design boost innovation performance? And under which conditions?
  • What are cases that have transformed individual experiences, frameworks and perspectives into a shared, understandable, and transmittable area of insight into the future.
  • How to counteract cognitive barriers and enhance foresight capacities?
  • Can foresight yield the early discovery of radical innovations with future impact?

Indicative References
Bishop, P., Hines, A., & Collins, T. (2007). The current state of scenario development: An overview of techniques. foresight, 9(1), 5–25. doi:10.1108/14636680710727516
Buehring, J., & Liedtka, J. (2018). Foresight by design: Supporting strategic innovation with systematic futures thinking. Proceedings of the Cumulus Conference, France, 11–13.
Heskett, J. (2009). Creating economic value by design. International Journal of Design, 3(1), 71–84.
Hines, A., & Zindato, D. (2016). Designing foresight and foresighting design: Opportunities for learning and collaboration via scenarios. World Future Review, 8(4), 180–192. doi:10.1177/1946756716672477
Rohrbeck, R., Battistella, C., & Huizingh, E. (2015). Corporate foresight: An emerging field with a rich tradition. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 101, 1–9. doi:10.1016/j.techfore.2015.11.002
Slaughter, R. (2003). New thinking for a new millennium: The knowledge base of futures studies. New York: Routledge.
Vecchiato, R. (2012). Environmental uncertainty, foresight and strategic decision making: An integrated study. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 79(3), 436–447. doi:10.1016/j.techfore.2011.07.010
Wilkinson, A., Mayer, M., & Ringler, V. (2014). Collaborative futures: Integrating foresight with design in large scale innovation processes-seeing and seeding the futures of Europe. Journal of Futures Studies, 18(4), 1–26.

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