Future Workshop

Method

Activating creativity, drafting visionary ideas, realizing solutions

The Future Workshop method allows participants to draft solutions for a particular topic or problem in a creative atmosphere. By freeing participants of their everyday routines, resignations, and self-censorship, Future Workshops give creative impulses to energize potential solutions.

This long established and proven method is both easy to convey and temporally flexible. Future Workshops usually have a duration of one to three days. The method encourages thinking about both visionary ideas and attainable solutions and is applicable to most fields. It is especially adept in developing guiding principles for ideas for the future, and can act as a departure point for a working group or network.

A Future Workshop consists of three phases (the critique phase, the fantasy phase, and the implementation phase), in which participants are in turn encouraged to critically reflect on a situation, brainstorm solutions, and develop implementable strategies.

The Future Workshop at a Glance:

  • Three phases: Fantasy, Critique, Implementation
  • Easily conveyed and temporally flexible procedure
  • Long established and proven for all areas of society
  • Encouraging creativity and activating visionary ideas
  • Translation of these visions into implementable strategies

Literature

Kuhnt, B.; Müllert, N. R. (2006). Moderationsfibel Zukunftswerkstätten: verstehen, anleiten, einsetzen. Das Praxisbuch zur Sozialen Problemlösungsmethode Zukunftswerkstatt. 3. überarbeit. Aufl., Neu-Ulm: AG SPAK.  

Jungk, R.; Müllert, N.R. (1998). Zukunftswerkstätten. Mit Phantasie gegen Routine und Resignation. München: Heyne Sachbuch

References

Zukunftswerkstatt auf der Klausurtagung des Bibliotheksteams for Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung gGmbH, 2015

Zukunftswerkstatt/Thinktank zur Relevanz von Partizipation for Veolia Environnement, 2012

Zukunftswerkstatt für Psychotherapeutenkammer Berlin, 2011

Future Workshop „Mobil in Lübeck 2030“for the project Solidarische Stadt, supported by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, 2011

Future workshops in Coswig (Anhalt), Gerbstedt, Ilsenburg (Harz), Mieste, Stendal, Wanzleben and Weißenfels for the project Wege zu einer nachhaltigen Bevölkerungsentwicklung in Sachsen-Anhalt – Ländliche Lebensmodelle für junge Menschen und Familien, supported by the Ministerium für Landesentwicklung und Verkehr des Landes Sachsen-Anhalt, 2005 - 2008

Details

Futurologists Rober Jungk and Norbert R. Müllert published their first experiences with their newly developed Future Workshop method at the end of the 1970s (Jungk, Müllert 1998). The method has since been proven effective in a range of different contexts including local politics, the economy, and education.

As a tool for democracy and participation, the Future Workshop method aims to involve as many participants as possible in problem-solving and decision-making processes. Together as a group, participants illuminate problems, draft utopian solutions, and evaluate those solutions on the basis of their realization potential. By encouraging creativity and emphasizing opportunities of involvement, the Future Workshop method fights against resignation and indifference. Future Workshops tap into the participants’ imagination, using their visionary ideas to develop implementable solutions for the future.

Groups have a tendency to condone self-censorship in brainstorming processes, which often limits creative potential and blocks ideas that seem too “crazy.” The Future Workshop breaks this pattern of blockage by providing creative impulses and funneling ideas into implementable solutions.

Kuhnt and Müllert (2006) emphasize five principal effects of the method:

  • Democratization by equal collaboration
  • Learning by constant exchange
  • Synergy by collaborative results
  • Motivation by encouraging participation
  • Creativity by thinking out of the box, drafting utopias, and developing new solutions

In the first phase (critique), the participating group lists the negative aspects of the current situation. In the second phase (fantasy), the group works with various creative methods to counter their points of critique with visions, desires, and utopias. In the third (implementation) phase, the group evaluates the implementation potential of the various utopian ideas and develops concrete suggestions, projects, and further points of action.

All three phases are visualized and documented. A follow-up session is recommended to evaluate the ideas developed in the Future Workshop and how these ideas were realized in praxis.