How workshops are prepared

Future Mapping workshops are highly prepared meetings in which we interview 40-60 people throughout an organization or industry, from the thought-leaders to the heretics. In addition, we call on other experts and data from various published sources to ensure all critical strategic points of view on a topic are considered. The culmination is the production of a scenario building kit of events (about 120) and endstates (typically four to six of them), which is used to hold a highly prepared workshop where each team of participants interacts deeply with this information. We derive endstate elements and event ideas from the interviews. 


What is an endstate?

With a core client team, we assemble the endstate elements derived from interviews into 4 to 6 full endstates for the workshop.  Each endstate paints a picture of one way the future turns out for the world and the strategic question being considered.  It has to be internally consistent and plausible.  Participants have to be able to recognize each one as a credible future even if they do not personally believe it to be true.  They do not need to be mutually exclusive as in a 2x2.  They do need to be very distinct, even orthogonal, and they need to fully capture the range of points of view on the topic.  As a set, they show the range of futures that the group thinks about.


What is an event?

Events are actions – someone does something, some action is taken by some group, some data point is revealed by a research project, etc.  The test of a good event is this:  “Will you be able to tell if it has happened?”.  Interviews yield lots of possible events.  With a client core team, we select 100-120 to use in any particular workshop.  To be selected, they have to somehow be required for 1 or more of the endstates to develop. 

If the project is about strategy development, some events are about actions taken by the client that would be logical in the context of an endstate.

Events that are shared across all the scenarios become a focus of early action that can be described in steps, if needed, like these:   Describe the desired outcome for the event.  What can be done to cause that outcome?  What resources are needed?  Who has these resources?  Who can take on this task?  How will we know when their work is complete and the event has happened (or not)?

Taken together, endstates and events are a scenario building ‘kit’, derived from interviews and research that capture all of the ideas in a group.  They are pieces and parts of incomplete scenarios.

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