Category Archives: Think

Thoughtful engagement, deep reflection, intellectual or academic topics

Decolonizing Futures through Storytelling

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OCAD SFI grad student Pupul Bisht presented the October DwD on exploring storytelling to decolonize foresight methods. Pupul’s research in OCADU’s Strategic Foresight and Innovation program critiques and redefines futures methods by inquiring into cross-cultural and indigenous futures thinking.

Pupul explores several questions in the workshop:

  • How might storytelling work as a tool for inclusion of non-western perspectives in foresight?
  • How might we make futures methodology pluralistic, and hence more inclusive?
  • Who owns images of the future? Can stories help reveal these power structures?
  • How do different cultural epistemologies of time & future affect the ability of a community to participate in the current foresight design process?
  • How do different cultures visualize progress?

Different cultures around the world have diverse future temporalities and distinct ways of thinking about the future. In the Confucian worldview the future can be in the future as well as the past, so can it be in the Hindu and Buddhist worlds. The concept of time in these cultures is such that one can view the future in or from the past. This cyclic concept of time is often not included in foresight explorations, as most tools and frameworks used by practitioners visualize time as a linear entity, expressed “horizontally.”

This Design with Dialogue workshop was part of Pupul’s major research project in the SFI program, and  designed around exploration of the above mentioned questions in multidisciplinary teams of experts in foresight, storytelling and non-western perspectives. Through this dialogic workshop we will try to identify underlying cultural values, worldviews and assumptions that shape the current methods and theories in futures discourse. We will conclude with a generative session where we will explore practical frameworks that could be used to make the discipline more inclusive.

From this workshop, you can expect to:

  • Gain a better understanding of the epistemological limitations of the current futures discourse
  • Explore scope for intervention in multidisciplinary teams
  • Learn new methods and expand your foresight vocabularies and toolkits

Join us if you are interested in exploring ways to open the foresight process to non-western ways of knowing, doing and being through storytelling. This workshop will be an interesting opportunity to co-create frameworks at the intersection of Foresight, Storytelling and Decolonization

About the Presenter

Pupul is an Indian designer with deep passion for exploring cultural plurality in contemporary design practices.  With a Bachelor’s in Graphic Design from National Institute of Design, India Pupul moved to Toronto last year to pursue her Master’s in the OCAD Strategic Foresight and Innovation program. She is conducting this workshop as part of her Major Research Project. Her thesis explores the intersection of cultural foresight, storytelling and epistemological pluralism.

With a belief that the stories we tell of our pasts shape our futures, Pupul wants to dedicate her multi-disciplinary creative practice to uncovering narratives of alternative histories and desirable futures that otherwise lie in mundane yet under-explored nooks of our everyday world. Through the tool of storytelling she hopes to move foresight outside organizational confines and engage in mass-dialogue about our collective futures as a civilization.

Worldbuilding: A Workshop on Shared Futuring

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The first of two foresight workshops presented by Strategic Foresight and Innovation students was held in September with Maheen Zaidi sharing a methodology being proposed for long-horizon transition design and collaborative scenario thinking. Her workshop engaged about 30 participants in exploring futures through worldbuilding and narrative visioning practices. She organized the session around three inquiries:

  • Can the resurgence of science fiction narratives help us create a better society and social systems?
  • How can worldbuilding help us in designing practices for community and large system transition?
  • Can we combine worldbuilding and foresight practices such as backcasting to better inform social system design?

Over the past few years, an ongoing battle for the future of science fiction has plagued the literary community, and the crux of the problem was this: the genre was undergoing social change to better reflect the world’s diverse values and voices, and not everyone agreed that it should. Not only was this conflict a missed signal for the resurgence of social populism (and the Trump presidency), it raised concerns about who and what is informing society’s visions of the future, and what the implications of those visions are.

Though we can find science fiction at the root of most (if not all) of our technological accomplishments, it does not inspire society to adopt the moral and ethical lessons it imparts. As a result, we’re captivated by Orwell’s telescreens and Crichton’s Jurassic Park, but fail to act upon their warnings about mass surveillance or unchecked entrepreneurship. So where is the disconnect? Why is science fiction not leading the charge on informing transition and systemic design?

This Design with Dialogue workshop will introduce a model that tests if science fiction narratives and practices can help build better systems. The workshop will include an exercise that examines the fictional worlds in stories such as 1984 and Brave New World. We’ll also use the model to imagine a new society with more sustainable systems that are designed with a civilizational timescale in mind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Host

Maheen Zaidi

Maheen is co-founder of The Innovation Shop, a design consultancy in Toronto. She specializes in strategic foresight, transition design, and narrative design. She is completing a Masters of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation from OCAD University, and has an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration from York University. Her thesis explores the intersection of civilizational foresight, transition design, and science fiction.

A staunch believer that language is a critical medium of design and that foresight should be ambient, Maheen is a science fiction writer. In her previous life, she was a marketing executive who worked with multi-nationals, startups, and scale-ups to build brand equity.

 

 

Deliberating on Values in Digital Democracy

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The July DwD hosted a mixed group of designers, curious citizens and community activists to engage in the inquiry and workshop Exploring Values in Digital Democracy. The primary purpose of the workshop was to explore questions of values and positions openly to inform the design of the Nova Agora prototype and contribute to new model of digital citizenship.  The focal questions for the session were:

  • How might we better address policy disputes through citizen-led democratic practices?
  • How can we deliberate in democratic processes through sharing values?
  • How can we better employ “digital citizenship” to understand values commitments we may share in common?

Rationale. Today, adherents of mainstream political parties are unable to even speak with one another about issues of critical importance to their collective futures. Policy controversies, such as debates on globalization, abortion, or immigration, have polarized to become intractable disputes.  A lack of diversity or mobility, filter bubbles, social media echo chambers, and targeted advertising amplify this polarization. Digital feedback reinforces entrenched positions. Then, the more positions polarize, the more a simple policy controversy moves towards policy conflict and ruptured public discourse.

Approach. Jenny Whyte and Natalija Fischer facilitated July’s DwD with a workshop, a process and prototype. They presented Nova Agora, a citizen’s digital service and research platform, designed as a peacebuilding tool to deconstruct policy disputes by reframing how issues are expressed and interpreted, from positions to values, thereby facilitating connection, catharsis, and understanding.

The workshop was open for any citizens interested in fostering respectful discourse, self-awareness, and moral based reasoning. Participants engaged in several activities designed to draw out and deliberate on the values important in political decision making (specifically the set advocated by Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind from moral foundations theory). Values and political positions were explored through dialogue, embodied acting, and small group work.

 

Patricia Kambitsch sketched the summaries and process as seen in the final story map.   (Click to enlarge)

 

People were asked to visit the Nova Agora site in advance of the session and take the survey on positions or the survey on values.  Both of these resources remain open and available for others to review and the design team would welxome further feedback and insights on the process.

Nova Agora Team

Natalija Fisher  – natalija@nasagora.org, MSc Water Resources Management, UNESCO-IHE

Natalija has worked on freshwater protection across government, non-profits, and start-up systems.  Internationally, she facilitates youth inclusion at global events like the Budapest Water Summit and the World Water Forum.

Most recently, Natalija has launched two peace-building initiatives.

 

 

 

Jenny Whyte – jenny.c.whyte@gmail.com, Strategic Foresight and Innovation, MDes

Using the design tools learned in the SFI program she aims to tackle wicked with a human-centered approach.

She is currently winding up to defend her thesis exploring how better understanding ‘the self’ might encourage social change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Designing for Play – How to Play your Work

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In the March DwD session with Farzad Sedghipour, we explored the importance of finding play in our work through a semi-structured facilitated workshop.  Roughly 20 members of Toronto’s innovation community attended, ready to design for play. The workshop was based on Farzad’s Strategic Foresight & Innovation project,  Play to Perform: Why Play is the Future of Work

Play is one of life’s top motivators, it is fundamentally collaborative, and we have to play in creative work.

The Process

“Work and Play are words to used to describe the same thing under differing conditions.”
-Mark Twain

The DwD workshop comprised several improv games; a short-discussion defining play, what it is and is not, the creation of individual Play Personalities through a Maker’s survey, and group games exploring the future of play at work.

Defining one’s Play Personality required individuals to reflect back into their childhood experiences and remember moments when they were fully immersed in an activity for its sake.  Participants were asked to also consider times they made a difference, what made them come alive in these instances, and what animal personalities and historical/fictional characters they identified with.

The final piece of this exercise was a magazine montage, in which participants created their play personality using magazine cutouts, to help them define what personality traits and attributes characterize them when they are in a state of play.

In the second exercise, we explored jobs many would consider “mundane” or “boring” – call center operator, assembly line worker, retail etc. –  and how we as managers might help our employees find more play within them.  We talked about how Toyota for example, injects play into manufacturing work through their Kaizen culture, which encourages employees to take ownership of continuous improvement initiatives and processes.  We talked about how a call center might “playify” its work to A/B test various strategies, while enabling staff to have fun and produce more great work.  In general, we talked about how managers can give employees more agency and control over how they do their work, in order to cultivate a play mindset in their employees.

Rank your top 2 drives to play are:

  • The Joker: loves nonsense, and practical jokes as an adult
  • The Kinesthetic: needs to move (to think); loves being in their body: dance, swim, yoga, walk
  • The Explorer: Actively seeks out new experiences, be they physical, mental, or emotional
  • The Competitor: loves playing games to win, to be number 1
  • The Director: Enjoys planning and executing scenes and events. Born organizers, party givers; the world’s a stage and we are all players in the director’s game
  • The Collector: Have and hold the most, best, and most interesting objects: coins, toys, wine, shoes, ties, videos, music etc. can be solitary or social
  • The Artist/Creator: The maker, including painting, woodworking, pottery, and sculptor.. more recently, the programmer/developer
  • The Storyteller: Imagination is the key to this kingdom; novelists, playwrights, cartoonists, and screenwriters; Performer of magic tricks, lectures, dance and actingLeading with a play mindset is what creative entrepreneurs and master crafts people do explained Farzad, because for them, play is the work they would do even if no one required them to do it.

A few key insights that emerged were:

  1. Employing sensory props such as smelly markers, jelly beans, and balloons can nudge participants in more vividly recalling their childhood experiences,
  2. More opportunities to learn about the neuroscience and theory of play,
  3. and facilitate mad libs and co-creations to inspire more play-led activities.  

All great suggestions to think about, for how else could one consistently perform with vitality, creativity, and skill, without play.

ABOUT THE PRESENTER

Farzad is an economist and a futurist who is passionate about strategy and organizational design, play, and the future or work.  He thinks systematically and behaviourally to help clients find innovation opportunities between diverse values and interests. Farzad’s past experiences include 8-years’ leading economic research, organizational development and business design, and strategic-foresight projects for the private and public sector. He holds a M.A. in Economics & Finance and a MDes in Strategic Foresight & Innovation.

 

Designing Places & Spaces for New Learning

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  • How might Youth Spaces in the education system support student goals and aspirations?
  • What can we do better having learned from observing decades of Toronto’s alternative schools?
  • How might we redesign an educational system that better serves all students and families in the city?

A recent student project in Strategic Foresight & Innovation proposed a system design for new modes of learning for disadvantaged youth in the GTA.  They presented their altSPACES study as a visual story of the social system, with a participatory design dialogue to engage further into these possibilities.

jade1

 

Kelly

Live sketching by Patricia Kambitsch, Playthink.

LearningPKMural

 

ABOUT THE HOSTS

Aday Sami-Oringbe and Jade Lee Hoy represented the altSPACES team, from OCADU’s Strategic Foresight and Innovation (SFI) program.

Ayomide fondly known as Aday is a designer and engineer with a commitment to user-centered design and flair for project development. Her mission is to inspire growth using design principles. Aday is currently completing her MDes in the SFI program. Prior to SFI, Aday crafted her particular expertise in liaising with multiple Project Managers and project teams, managing multimedia projects, and contributing to the design of the web and print media components.

Jade Lee Hoy is a curious wanderer whose cross-sectoral and international experiences allow for a unique creative perspective. Her work often manifests itself through the creation of spaces, whether it be public space, the creation of a new arts centre, or large scale space activations. She is an active advocate for the power of arts and culture and believes in its ability to make change. She is passionate about building meaningful and innovative partnerships across sectors and cultures. Jade has worked on large scale projects such as the Pan Am Path, Manifesto Community Projects and Festival, and the City of Toronto’s Cultural Hot Spot. Current projects include Dais (new Bell Media film hub), Intent city (summer works festival), and the Lowline (worlds first underground park).