Client
Deliverable
Values
Future Scenarios
Strategy Recommendations
Year
2019

Futuring the Futures Initiative

Exploring and analysing a series of possible futures for the Design Futures Initiative.
Client
Deliverable
Values, Future Scenarios and Strategy Recommendations
Year
2019
Client details
The Design Futures Initiative is a nonprofit 501c3 organisation based in San Francisco, dedicated to the development and education of Futures Thinking. Their main activities include running the global network of Speculative Futures meetups, and producing the US and EU versions of the annual Primer conference.
CLIENT DETAILS


The Design Futures Initiative is a nonprofit 501c3 organisation based in San Francisco, dedicated to the development and education of Futures Thinking. Their main activities include running the global network of Speculative Futures meetups, and producing the US and EU versions of the annual Primer conference. 
THE CHALLENGE
The Design Futures Initiative (DFI) launched its first meetup in San Francisco in 2015 and produced its first conference in 2017. Since then the organisation has flourished, growing to over 40 chapters, and 2 annual conferences with thousands of members. As a volunteer-run organisation, such rapid growth creates several challenges, including that of having a clear vision to progress towards. 
In a fast-paced engagement, our goal was to help the DFI to think about and align on their values, vision, and mission. Additionally, we aimed to make strategic recommendations that could help them manage such rapid growth.


OUR APPROACH
In an initial research phase we conducted two types of research — inward-facing and outward-facing:

— Inward-facing
We conducted interviews with people across the whole organisation, from the founder, through board members, advisors, chapter leaders as well as meetup attendees. 

— Outward-facing
We researched other creative, and futures-based professional networks, from Ladies Wine and Design to the World Future Society to build an understanding of the different shapes and growth trajectories that similar networks can take. 

The information collected from these research efforts was synthesised into three main outputs:
Possible FuturesA series of future scenarios for the DFI, which demonstrate the breadth of possibility for the organisation’s next steps. 


— Values
A series of four values, which represent the shared aspirations of the individuals we spoke to from across the DFI. 

— Risks and Challenges
Key risks and challenges that the research suggested the DFI was facing, or would face in the near future. 

Cross-referencing the values with the future scenarios, we made conclusions about which (parts) of the scenarios were ‘preferable’ for the DFI, and accordingly made some strategic recommendations around branding, governance and structure, and additional activities, to help them move towards that preferable vision. 

Results

THE FOUNDATION FOR ACTION

Strategic recommendations were discussed with the Board of Directors, were unpacked into components, and ultimately workstreams which could be actioned.

MITIGATED RISKS

The risks and challenges for the DFI which we outlined gave the board clear insight into areas which could create significant challenges in the future, allowing them to create strategies which addressed and mitigated those challenges.

A Foundation for Further Investigation

We provided the board with a framework through which they could further investigate their operational challenges, frame them in terms of practical strategies, and develop a timeline for execution.

“We were lucky to find Andthen just when we were planning to make some major strategic changes. They are kind and warm, yet also targeted and professional about how they approach problems. They were very transparent around their approach and delivered a great set of recommendations that mirrored our internal thinking and pushed us to consider new perspectives.”
Phil Balagtas, President and Founder, Design Futures Initiative
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