Why How to Map the Future exists. How it works. What it’s good for. For whom it is intended. When it will be here.
During the autumn of 2018, 10X Labs had the privilege of going on a tour around Sweden together with the Department of Civic Planning (Boverket). We hosted three ‘future workshops’ in as many cities, meant to facilitate meaningful dialogues about strategic planning for the future. The attendants were civil servants from municipalities, regional governments and scientists. 10X Labs had designed the workshops, and during these proceedings we discovered a lovable question that was worth pursuing.
We live in ever more complex times, where the rate of change is exponential. This is in large part due to the second and third order effects of technological development. Less than three decades ago, we lived in a world of analog towers. Now we all reside in the digital square, where past experiences and best practices do us little good when trying to plan for an unforeseeable future.
It became apparent to 10X Labs that our workshop method did not enable the participants to effectively map out such complexities. They could not build a shared image to align themselves around, and much less make any meaningful decisions. This resulted in watered-down platitudes without meaningful commitment. So we set out to build a system that would enable the opposite. It was time to make a game.
Why How to Map the Future exists
How to Map the Future exists to empower workshop participants to create for themselves a shared map of their organisation’s future, and simulate what they must do to thrive within it. It enables you and your colleagues to have widely different views on what tomorrow may bring, but according to the same set of simple rules. Perhaps most importantly, it comes in pre-configured scenarios that have recognisable narrative arcs - which allows you to take information currently buried in 50+ slides of PowerPoint decks and turn it into stories you remember. Knowledge retention, alignment around complexity and serious playfulness are the three pillars of How to Map the Future. Together, they provide an unapologetically analog learning experience that brings people in with curiosity and helps them build the courage necessary to become innovators.
How How to Map the Future works
Take your existing data (business intelligence, customer data, product information and more) and plug into the How to Map the Future game engine. Then play through a customised and rule-driven simulation that is uniquely relevant to you and your organisation. Practically speaking, this comes down to answering questions in a questionnaire made by 10X Labs, combined with more qualitative interviews with the game masters in preparation for the workshop. In this way, we turn the generic scenarios of the platform (see below for more detailed information about the available scenarios) into tailored maps of your future that are tactile, interactive and refreshingly analog.
Depending on the scenario and the desired level of depth, a How to Map the Future workshop can take between 3 hours and 2 days to complete. You and your colleagues use the rules of the game to have more wide-ranging conversations that reach further with maintained focus. There are different scenarios for different desired learning experiences, and every workshop is hosted by a 10X Labs game master. He or she is responsible for facilitating the team’s progress throughout the game, assuring that the learning goals are met and that the team is maximising its collective capacity.
How to Map the Future is not complicated. You answer some questions beforehand, then show up to the workshop where you will be met by an empty board and a game master. You and your team then begin to build your personal changescape (landscape of change) on the board, by following the simple step-by-step instructions from the game master. Soon, you will have made an information-dense yet observable image of how things might change for your organisation. Then you start to simulate different possibilities, opportunities and threats - all by following the rules of the game. Eventually, you reach alignment around a concrete set of likely strategic options that best respond to the map you and your team have made.
How to Map the Future is not complicated. But it is made for overcoming complexity, by creating interactive maps complete with a narrative and tactile metaphors. It empowers you to put all your information onto the table, and then move it around to see what patterns that emerge. You and your colleagues will build for yourselves a shared image of the complex present and tomorrow that you face. And if you do not all agree, you will disagree in the same way and by following the same rules of the game. Alignment around better decisions is the key feature and value proposition of How to Map the Future.
Second to that is knowledge retention, for which the game system is optimised. We have embedded narrative elements into the game mechanics, so that all data has a symbol in the form of a game piece. Your organisation may be a castle, your strongest asset may be its moat. Global trends might be a storm cloud and a technological tool may be represented as a falling meteor. The How to Map the Future platform deliberately sacrifices depth and information accuracy in favor of rememberability through our built-in narrative. Every scenario is a self-contained story with a recognisable arc that help the team of players push themselves to the conclusion, the completion of the story. The main value behind this is to create a learning experience that you will remember, and can indeed retell to someone that was not there. These workshops contain a lot of complex information and can easily be overwhelming in their scope. That is why How to Map the Future is steeped in metaphors and narrative, because these attributes function as mementos and mental levers for the participants. And yes, it also makes it considerably more fun.
What does How to Map the Future do
High-level strategic planning about what to do when facing complex challenges where prior experiences are of limited value. Simulate different responses to global trends, technological disruption and the advances of competitors. Formulate what you need to innovate, where and by when in order to maximise your strategic assets in a rapidly changing landscape. Ultimately, How to Map the Future enables you to make better decisions when having to do things that are new, unknown and difficult to foresee.
Who is How to Map the Future meant for
C-suite leaders at mid- to large enterprises. Innovation teams at these enterprises. Pre-growth stage startups, ideally as part of an accelerator program. Urban planners and civil servants at decision-making levels. Students at forward-leaning schools.
When does How to Map the Future go from idea to being a thing
Kind of is already a thing. Will totally be a thing-thing by May 2020