Undesign: the power of conscious imagination

I’m going to invite you to take a moment. Look around.  Notice your surroundings. Take it all in. Close your eyes and notice the sounds, smells and maybe tastes, all the sensations associated with where you are right now. You’ll be reading this from some sort of device. How does it feel to touch? What emotions arise when you look at it? Does it hum? What sounds does it make when you tap a key or touch the screen?

Time to go on a journey. Imagine being in this same spot 30 years ago.

What was different? What would be the same?

30 years is, roughly, when design thinking became a term with a common meaning. Since then we’ve added human centred design, just in case anyone was in doubt who the design was for. How is your designer world? Everything that’s different in those thirty years that is by human design, has been designed for you.

Let’s go forward the same amount of time, the trick here is to think of an event or events that are important to you in about 30 years’ time; maybe a significant birthday, birth of a grandchild? Take a moment to breathe and slow yourself down. Let the chatter die away. When you are calm, close your eyes, let yourself travel to that time and place. Let the event unfold, the sights, sounds, smell. Look around what are the changes to technology, clothing social norms and anything else that comes to mind.

Hopefully, you had an immersive experience of an imagined future. If not don’t give up it can take a bit of time to get right, relaxing is the key. Imagining the future like this uses some of our highest brain functions. It can be integrative, being together different ideas in a more holistic way. There are limitations, usually we’re limited to a few changes, many things stay the same.

Thinking about your imagined future and the changes, where do did the ideas for the changes come from? For example, perhaps you imagined holographic people at the event attending remotely? Where did that image or idea come from? Maybe it’s like, but not identical, to a scene in a film? Resembles a passage in a book you read last week, or article or a picture?

This is a cycle. Society develops ideas about the future, and they are shared as artefacts. These take hold subtly in our minds and influence us, whether we are using human centred design thinking or some other form of design. This is not necessarily a bad thing; bold inspiring images move societies. If they are unquestioned and unconscious, the hidden image of the future lurks in the background, hand on the tiller, plotting the course.

When futures meet design, we can make conscious the images that guide us, critically evaluate them and make conscious decisions. We can undesign from the unconscious and redesign with the future in mind.  Want to know more about undesign?

The Action Foresight team are excited to announce our upcoming course, “Undesign: practical futures tools for anticipation and conscious design”.

We’d love you to join us on this journey. Book tickets here. Early bird tickets are available and are expected to sell fast.

Anticipatory Experimentation Method

The Anticipatory Experimentation Method (AEM) or ‘Bridge Method’ is a method for bringing the preferred future into the present through experiments that can scale for impact. It is a bridge between a preferred future and real-world experiments that bring that future into being. It combines a visioning approach with an ideation method that can bridge future vision with specific and implementable ideas, which culminate in experiments.

The method focuses on bringing a preferred future into the present, by running experiments that have maximum alignment with the enactment of our preferred futures. Why do an experiment that is not aligned to our preferred futures? This is a waste. Let’s experiment with the ideas that are going to get us where we really want to go! Experiments are a vehicle for enacting new futures because they are “small pieces” of the preferred future brought into the present.

Experiments are also time and resource savers because, rather than commit a whole organization or community to a new path (which is both risky and potentially costly), experiments are small scale and cost effective ways of testing a new direction. If some experiments show promise they can be scaled and invested in, accelerating organizational momentum toward enacting the vision. If experiments don’t work, the investment was limited and the risk was measured, people can still learn a great deal and nonetheless develop confidence in the experimentation process.

How do we respond, indeed create breakthroughs or transformations within a variety of domains of social life, where change is needed? There are many methods for social change, and as a student, practitioner and teacher of futures studies and foresight I have a deep appreciation for the variety of complex ways our societies change. There is no one size fits all. It is my hope that the Anticipatory Experimentation Method (AEM) or ‘Bridge Method’ adds meaningfully to the capacity for us to respond to our shared and emerging challenges, as anticipatory experimentalists, playfully yet purposefully to be in the service of long-term global foresight and the well-being of future generations and life on earth.

The self guided course is available through Thinkific HERE.

Systemic Leadership and Strategic Foresight

The world is in flux with technology, social and political change at an unprecedented rate. 

Everyday there is a new headline that would have been unthinkable only a few years ago.  COVID-19, Trump, climate change, arctic current reversal, murder hornets, the list goes on. It’s easy and understandable to feel apprehensive about the future. This course is for anyone who wants new ways to engage with the future and to move from confusion to empowerment. It is for emerging leaders and anyone who wants to:

  • Make sense of the future in practical ways
  • Learn concrete strategies you can use alone or with your team to understand the future
  • Connect the future with present day actions
  • Use the image of the future to help tackle problems creatively 
  • Find alignment between you, your work and the change you want in the world

This is the first public offering of an online course previously run with emerging leaders in Victorian state government. Limited availability.

Value for money 

This is a $500 course which we offer at a discount so that it is available to as many people as possible, in what we know are financially trying times. We are able to offer this discount as this course is self-guided. 

Each module comes with: 

  • A video (approximately 15-20 min each module) 
  • Examples for each lesson
  • A pdf overview that explains key concepts 
  • Journal reflection questions
  • You will also be invited to join our slack group, and we will provide technical support if you have any troubles accessing content.

 What’s in the course? 

  • Module 1: What does systemic leadership mean? An intro to the systemic leadership triangle. 
  • Module 2: The Futures Landscape, an essential audit tool to understand future-readiness. 
  • Module 3: All about alternative futures and scenarios, and the cognitive science behind thinking about the future. 
  • Module 4: Jim Dator’s 4 Futures Model, a quick way to consider alternative futures. 
  • Module 5: Sensing and sense-making, the thinking behind identifying trends, weak signals and emerging issues.  
  • Module 6: The Futures Wheel, an easy to use tool to extrapolate cause and effect and identify future implications. 
  • Module 7: Three Horizons of Change. An advanced method for mapping change and developing robust strategic pathways that align with our preferred future. 

Themes in the course:  

  • The inter (cognitive-emotional) and outer (practice) foresight journey
  • Human blind-spots and challenges in thinking about the future
  • Mapping change and anticipating change
  • Leadership and foresight 
  • Systems, wicked problems and complexity
  • Used Futures
  • Transitions and change dynamics

If you are ready to take the course you can enrol HERE

If you are interested in being part of a live learning cohort, get in contact with us.

Participatory Futures Practitioner Design Course

Join the Action Foresight Global Swarm for a unique and custom learning experience as we explore approaches, cases, and assessment models for designing, implementing, and evaluating participatory futures engagements!


Learn how to apply futures thinking toward 21st century challenges, gain an in-depth understanding of participatory futures approaches through exercises and case studies, and gather tips and tricks for designing and delivering participatory futures engagements from leading practitioners.


Participatory futures refers to a range of approaches for involving citizens in exploring or shaping potential futures. It aims to influence and encourage long-term thinking and actions in the present.

Our course is designed to give you and your organization an introduction to:

  • Applying futures thinking at individual, communal, and organizational scales
  • Understanding the five approaches to participatory futures
  • Analyzing case studies of participatory futures from around the world
  • Designing more inclusive, imaginative, and impactful participatory futures engagements
  • Utilizing methods such as gaming and artifacts from the future(s)

Is this for me?

  • Do want to enhance your knowledge of futures/foresight through hands-on approaches and case studies?
  • Are you a practitioner/research who wants to enhance their capability in futures and foresight?
  • Are you an experienced practitioner/research interested in enhancing how you utilize participatory approaches?
  • Are you a civil servant seeking to leverage citizen involvement, collective intelligence, and critical creativity to enhance decision-making as well as policy, planning, and strategy development processes?
  • Do you work with communities, social movements, and/or any organization/institution that engages in citizen and public engagement?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then this course is for you!

How much?

Standard registration: $750 AUD

Take advantage of our Primer2020, professional futurist membership, (APF, WFSF, and WFS) and student discount: $645 AUD


Starts on August 30th and runs through September 10th.

Cohort #1 meets at:
5am Toronto / Santiago
10am London
230pm Delhi
7pm Melbourne

Cohort #2 meets at:
3pm Boulder (day before)
5pm Santiago (day before)
10pm London (day before)
7am Melbourne (next day)

We are committed to running sessions at times that work for everyone and will also make session recordings and materials available to all participants.


Want to learn more about the curriculum?

Have questions about the course?

Want to chat before you sign up? Let us know!



The Action Foresight Global Swarm (hereafter Swarm) is a network of researchers, practitioners, and pracademics. We represent a diverse array of geographies, context, as well as a range of unique professional backgrounds and experiences. We first swarmed together in 2019 for a project with NESTA to research participatory futures, which led to the publication of this guidebook: Our Futures: By the people, for the people. We enjoyed working together so much that we are publishing a book together and decided to launch this course.

Key details

  • We will do a brief refresher on the basics of futures/foresight (first session)
  • 7 session totaling 10-hours over 10 days (Aug 30 to Sep 9th) as well as an individual, one-hour coaching/mentoring session (with two members of the Swarm) that will be scheduled in the weeks after the course concludes
  • We will use Miro, Zoom, and Mentimeter to create an engaging and hands-on learning experience
  • Cohorts are capped at 20 to maximize shared learning
  • We aim for maximum convenience in terms of timing, and depending on the number and location of the course attendees, we may offer multiple cohorts by region and/or experience level
  • Participants will receive a “Certification of Completion” upon successfully finishing the course

If you’d like to learn more about any aspect of the course or have questions not answered here, please reach out and let’s chat!