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Transformative Foresight

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  • 1. TRANSFORMATIVE FORESIGHTLearning with Futures @ OECD 22 January 2014 Philippe Vandenbroeck Partner, shiftN

2. Transformative foresight At the service of the messy business of transitioning complex socio-technical systems ...mobilityenergy... under pressurefoodmanufacturing 3. Now this has been standing here for centuries. The premier work of man perhaps in the whole western world and its without a signature:Chartres. - Orson Welles 4. CharCharCathedral of our Lady of Chartres 1194-1250 5. There is nothing quite like Chartres ... One of the nest examples of French gothic architectureThe rst canonical embodiment of our denition of Gothic architecture as the conjunction of pointed arches, ribbed vaults and ying buttresses.At the time of its building, it had the tallest roof in the Western world (about 38 metres).Many structural innovations allowing for unprecedented scale and much greater area for window openings. The architecture is nothing but a frame for displays of stained glass.There is nothing quite like Chartres, partly because of the sheer quantity of glass, partly because of its special tonal quality.Its 176 original stained glass windows are the most complete set of medieval stained glass in the world.Chartres was one of the great centres of medieval learning, long before universities were created.Length: 130 metres Width: 32 metres / 46 metres Nave: height 37 metres; width 16.4 metres Ground area: 10,875 square metres Height of south-west tower: 105 metres Height of north-west tower: 113 metres 176 stained-glass windows Choir enclosure: 200 statues in 41 scenes 6. Question How do you envisage that this extraordinary innovation came into being, knowing that ... ... no original plans have been found; ... the name(s) of the architect(s) have not been transmitted; ... there was no common method of measurement, no scientic knowledge of structural mechanics. 7. The 'blueprint' hypothesis Branner: "Although it may be difcult for us to imagine nowadays, when sketchbook and pencil are the architect's vade mecum, the habit of thinking out a design, even down to the details, was perfectly normal when there was no strong tradition of drawing." Page from travel sketchbook Villard de Honnecourt master builder 1225-1250 8. The 'non-blueprint' hypothesis Turnbull: "Cathedrals were comparable to modern laboratories in three important ways: their very construction constituted a series of fullscale experiments. they were spaces where local, tacit and messy knowledge/practices were transformed into a coherent tradition. Cathedrals were powerful loci of learning and social transformation, absorbing large amounts of capital and concentrating resources, skills and labour. 9. So how can you build things that the world has never seen before? Exchange: ongoing interaction between patron, masons and other craftsmen. Exemplars: life-sized drawings as templates for stone cutters, allowing for mass-production and incremental building tactics. Expertise: a set of geometric rules of thumb derived from a craftsman-like practice, passed on from master to apprentice. Experiment: a cathedral is like a building made of playing cards, each section leaning on others in some sort of equilibrium. Much of the building process of the gothic cathedrals was innovative and experimental. Exaltation: resources expended on the building are seen as honouring God, and served also demonstrate both the devotion, status and power of the patrons. 10. "The structure of the cathedrals results from the combination of factors. They all interact as a whole to produce a particular form. The 'Gothic Style' as such was not in the minds of the cathedral builders ..." D. Turnbull, 'Masons, Tricksters and Cartographers' 11. The ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN: "Mapping the secrets of the universe" 12. The LHC: the most complex and expensive scientic experimental facility ever built. With its sister experiment CMS ATLAS endeavoured to detect the Higgs boson. On 4 July 2012 ATLAS reported evidence for the particle's existence, capping a 40-year search. The ATLAS detector: weighs as much as the Eiffel Tower, 10 million functional elements. ATLAS had to achieve fundamental breakthroughs in three interrelated technological areas: 1) never-achieved collision energy and luminosity, 2) unparallelled event detection rates, and 3) data acquisition and processing to match. The guiding magnets operate at a temperature of -271C. The pressure inside the LHC is 10-13 atmosphere, 1/10 of the pressure on the moon. LHC takes 40 million snapshots per second, each with an image resolution of 100 megapixels.ATLAS involved 3.000 scientists, spread across 173 institutes, in 38 countries. 13. Chartres builders and ATLAS physicists faced similar challenges. "Turning ATLAS into a reality was akin to putting together a non-linear, multi-dimensional puzzle of interdependent pieces brought together on the basis of uid and changeable concepts rather than stable and delineated patterns." Jenni, Nordberg and Boisot, 2011. photo:Ma)hewClemente,Flickrphoto:ClaudiaMarcelloni,CERN 14. What the ATLAS collaboration avoided ... Complex governance: the collaboration is guided by a 7-page MoU. Top-down hierarchy: there is no CEO, only a 'spokesperson'. A masterplan: the Technical Proposal contained an embryonic concept with myriads of design options left open. 15. What the ATLAS collaboration did ... Destination: hold on to a clear and unchanging objective: nding the Higgs. Decentralisation: implement an project adhocracy based on decentralisation of technical and nancial risks. Deliberation: cultivate emergent technical leadership through a continuous review process guided by rational justication and consensual choice of design options. Diffusion: cultivate an interlaced information metabolism, leading to ongoing reconguration, recontextualisation and collective internalisation of available knowledge. Dispersal: Cultivate inclusiveness on a large scale by collectivising prestige and honouring the norms and values of the scientic community. 16. Creating breakthroughs in a setting of irreducible uncertainty: lessons learned Clear vision, strong values. 1st class technical expertise. No masterplan. Fluid design trajectory, keeping options open, hands-on experiments. Decentralisation of work streams and accountability. Intense information ow, boundary objects, learning. 17. Another take on the same story: optionality optionality = asymmetry + rationalityNassim Nicholas TalebThe mechanism of 'convex tinkering' (i.e. fail fast, or trial-and-error: low-cost mistakes, with known maximum losses and large potential payoff. 18. Rationality intelligence "If you have optionality, you do not have much need for what is commonly called intelligence, knowledge, insight. For you don't have to be right that often. All you need is the wisdom to not do unintelligent things to hurt yourself and recognise favourable outcomes when they occur." - N.N. Taleb 19. Effectuation: creating ventures in unknowable spaces 4 simple heuristicsSaras SarasvathyStart with your means Focus on downside risk Leverage contingencies Form partnerships 20. Can we imagine that this is how great cathedrals came into being?Copyright The Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia: 21. Transformative foresight At the service of the messy business of transitioning complex socio-technical systems ...mobilityenergy... under pressurefoodmanufacturing 22. How can foresight contribute? epistemologiesscenario development, roadmapping, horizon scanning, forecastingmethodologiesscenarios, systems maps, models, early indicatorstools 23. What we have learned from Chartres and ATLAS: an epistemology of transformative foresight a non-causal, non-intelligence driven ethos of shaping complexityepistemologiesscenario development, roadmapping, horizon scanning, forecastingmethodologiesscenarios, systems maps, models, early indicatorstools 24. 'Energiewende': Transforming the energy system of the fourth largest economy in the world 25. A multidimensional puzzle ... New building/urban conceptsBehavioural changeNew scal/nancial instrumentsAlternative mobility systems New energy infrastructureNew information management conceptsAlternative power sources 26. High stakes, far away time horizon, irreducible uncertainty, ... 2011: Fukushima and the new 'Energiekonzept'. Broad political consensus for a radical reform. 1987-1990: parliamentary commission on climate change uses a turnaround scenario. 2003: WBGU landmark report "Energy turnaround 1980s: Multitude of energy for sustainability". turnaround scenarios. 1980: term 'energy turnaround' is coined.19801990Energiewende timeline 1998: energy turnaround scenario becomes ofcial government policy.200020102020"We have to be very clear that todays technology will only carry us for the next ten or fteen years. (...) We are right now extrapolating todays technology in a pretty linear fashion. You never know what kind of disruptive technologies will show up in between."2050 Prof. Frank Behrendt (TUBerlin, Acatech) 27. Again: how can foresight contribute? 28. Again: how can foresight contribute? Make explicite normative biases & systems viewArticulate, envision shared goalsCreate trust in multistakeholder settingsIdentify weak signals, unknown unknownsCement partnershipsSupport the 'planning as learning' process'Windtunnel' strategic options 29. Transition governance: the art of goal-directed incrementalism A theory and practice of 'managing' as searching, experimenting and learningVisioningAlliance buildingLearningExperimenting 30. Foresight at the 'fuzzy front-end' systems thinking+dialogue+'design thinking'dariocuci.comthinking 'big picture'embracing the normativerapid prototypingthinking interdependencescultivating contingencyabductive thinkingthinking leverage pointsbuilding social capitalimagineering 31. Thank you for your attention