Anticipatory Experimentation / Bridge Method

The Anticipatory Experimentation / Bridge Method brings your preferred future into the present through scaled experiments that can have a big impact.

Challenge your existing view of the future and use that to create a powerful vision and narrative that forms a call to action. Use our bespoke ‘Futures Action Model’ to inspire ideas and prototypes. The best ideas are developed into models that can be actioned in the real world. Learn how to bring the preferred future into the present by conducting real world experiments. Use this to guide investment decisions. Upscale the most promising experiments based on evidence of what can create your vision.


Anticipatory Experimentation / Bridge Method 

AF core method - bridge labels

The method entails five stages:

  1. Challenging the used future
  2. Developing a transformational futures narrative
  3. Creating a number of prototype ideas from the transformational narrative
  4. Choosing which prototype ideas to experiment with and running real-world experiments
  5. Upscaling and investing in the experiments with the best promise

Our services include three workshop and R&D component for the AIM/Bridge

Why use the Anticipatory Experimentation / Bridge Method ? 

The AEM/Bridge Method is powerful because it is an effective bridge between your transformational future vision and real-world experiments that bring that future into being. It combines a state of the art visioning approach with a proven conceptual prototyping method that can bridge future vision with specific and implementable ideas, which culminates in experiments that can have great impacts.

The method focuses on the best way to bring a transformational future into the present, running experiments that have maximum alignment with the enactment of the transformational future. Experiments are a powerful vehicle for enacting new futures because they are “small pieces” of the preferred future brought into the present. They are 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 cost effective ways of testing a new direction. If some experiments show promise they can be scaled and invested in, accelerating organisational momentum toward enacting the vision. If experiments don’t work, the investment was limited and the risk was measured, people still learn a great deal and nonetheless develop confidence in the experimentation process.

How does the Anticipatory Experimentation / Bridge Method work? 

AF core method - bridge methods

  1. First, we challenge the used future, which entails exploring the assumptions and images we have about the future, as well as learning about the emerging issues, trends and weak signals that are transforming our social horizons.
  2. Secondly, we help you develop an integrated vision and support you in creating a transformational futures narrative. The transformational futures narrative articulates the movement from your past to present to preferred future. It is an open ended narrative that requires the world to participate in its fulfilment, a call to action for others to work with you to create this future.
  3. Thirdly, we use the Futures Action Model to bridge your transformational futures narrative with prototyping. This includes an R&D process that begins with scanning the landscape of global pioneer projects, and then develops prototypes and models connected to your stakeholder ecosystem. This is done through a combination of R&D and gaming (the Futures Action Game).
  4. Fourthly, we set up an experiment using the FuturesLab approach of action learning – anticipate, design, connect and evolve. The experiment is that small piece of the future you are bringing into the present. We make sure learning happens that builds in systemic capacity for renewed experiments.
  5. Finally, experiments can be evaluated to see which ones show the most promise and are best aligned to enact your vision. These can then be upscaled and invested in accelerate the movement toward enacting the vision.

What are the main benefits of the Anticipatory Experimentation / Bridge Method ?

AF core method - bridge colors

  • How you conceive your future is genuine and powerful. It is not based on a “used future” that does not inspire, but is  connected to you or your organizations deep sense of purpose and creativity, giving you energy and inspiration. Your future is also informed by an analysis of emerging issues, strengthening its fit within an emerging horizon of change.
  • The ideas, strategies and prototypes you come up with for change are rigorous, aligned to your vision, grounded in an understanding of a changing world, tested against a global landscape of innovation, connected to the needs and potentials of your stakeholders, and concrete enough to implement.
  • Experiments show how to solve emerging challenges early. This can save valuable energy (time and money) that is spent responding to a problem once it is already a big one. Experiments also “prefigure” change. Especially when coupled to futures thinking, experiments can be transformative, providing a breakthrough into a new realm of achievement / performance.
  • Empowerment – people learn how to experiment, thus gaining capability, skills and confidence. Ultimately it is mastery of the process and a new culture that transforms a situation. No problem is too big to solve, because the capability and confidence in developing solutions has become so strong.
  • Social and technical innovation – from experiments and the deep learning they engender, new forms are born that are aligned to your preferred future vision, and which can be scaled to enact that future faster.

Futures Visioning

In order to create powerful strategies, experiments and innovations, you first need a transformed image and vision of the future, and from this to develop a narrative of change that projects your journey into the future where you create this future with others. Breakthrough conceptual prototypes need to be grounded in a re-imagined and renewed sense of future-facts and future possibilities. This is the first step in the journey to create powerful experiments that can scale.

The initial futures phase of the journey entails two distinct steps. The first is “Challenging the used future” and the second step is “Developing a transformational futures narrative”. Here, we’ll walk you through both in order.

Challenging the Used Future

Challenging the used future is the first part of this process, which entails discovery and unlearning, where the deep assumptions we have about the future can be disturbed and renewed. For this we use three sets of methods:

  1. Vision Cycles
  2. Weak Signals and Emerging Issues Analysis
  3. Causal Layered Analysis (downswing)

First is to understand the history of the ideas that have guided our actions. Throughout the life of our organisations, families and societies, ideas and visions emerge that guide our actions. We first need to understand what these have been and what we have learned from them. To do this we use a process called “Vision Mapping”. Vision Mapping is is a way to review the way in which visions of the future have guided us through history, and it helps us prepare for what is next.


Secondly, we need to learn about the emerging issues, trends and weak signals that are transforming our social horizons. Emerging issues are social phenomena that are “bubbling up” in discrete places. They are not common knowledge (yet), and they are “prefigurative”, they augur wider and broader social changes. Discovering them requires a special lens and perspective to understand what is and what is not an emerging issue, and we rely on the weak signals analysis of Dr. Elina Hiltunen,, as well as the work of Graham Molitor. Scanning for the changes that matter to our future is a tried and tested way of challenging our view of what the future might be. It opens up issues that we would not have considered, both possibilities that we can leverage for opportunity, as well as threats and risks that we want to avoid.

Thirdly, we use causal layered analysis (CLA), developed by Dr. Sohail Inayatullah. CLA helps to problematise existing future oriented thinking, exploring the assumptions, ideologies, worldviews, epistemes, myths and metaphors that already are embedded in images, statements or policy oriented research about the future. It is a way of opening up spaces for alternative futures. These alternative futures are not based on extrapolating trends or tweaking the assumptions in a systems model as is common in scenario building, but through deconstructing/reconstructing critical assumption about the way we constitute the world.

Narrative Foresight

Narrative foresight is the second part of the journey, where we rebuild our vision of the future from a new metaphor and story, and develop an integrated vision of the future. Narrative Foresight is a process designed to help people and organizations reframe deeply embedded life and organizational narratives and develop new inspiring and empowering narrative orientations to their futures. It is a process which takes participants and organizations through a journey of identifying the myths and narratives that have defined their past, and engaging in an analytic and imaginative process to create a new narrative for themselves in relation to the future.

This entails three steps using there district methods:

  1. Causal Layered Analysis (upswing)
  2. Integrated Visioning
  3. Open Ended Narrative

Firstly, Causal Layered Analysis provides the transition method by which to begin to build a renewed vision for the future. Through CLA, a new metaphor or story may emerge that expresses a new cultural orientation. From this new cultural orientation, new systems and structure emerge as logical expressions, and finally key indicators that can tell us whether we are advancing with this new pathway. CLA identifies the emerging culture, systems, structures and measurements for this new journey. CLA provides a way to reconfigure neural pathways that allow us to see our social pathways in a new light.

Secondly, we do “Integrated Visioning”. Integrated Visioning is a visioning process in which we develop a preferred vision of the future, consider what this vision disowns, and then develop an integrated vision from the combination of the two. The visioning method externalises the otherwise internalised logics of the psyche, providing a powerful way for participants to reflect on their own personal and organizational projections and images of the future, and to evaluate the futures that resonate best. The method was also developed by Sohail Inayatullah and is influenced by the work of Carl Jung’s archetypal psychology, the Voice Dialog approach of Hal and Sidra Stone, and the work of Ashis Nandy and William Irwin Thompson, among others.

Thirdly, based on this Integrated Vision, we develop an Open Ended Narrative. An open ended narrative is a narrative that describes the journey from past to present to preferred future, in a way that includes the key people that must act to make this vision a reality, and by crafting a call to action.

Narrative versus story, according to John Hagel, is open ended. We assume that from past to present, something has changed. It may be that there are new opportunities associated with technology. It may be new social or ecological challenges that we need to rise up to. Either way, something has changed, yet the future has not been determined. It may go our way, or it may not. Importantly, we may hold a vision and see the possibilities for us, but because it is open ended, it is up to us to determine the future. Therefore, narrative is outward facing, it needs to engage new people in the fulfilment of the vision. The critical question then becomes, how do people participate in the fulfilment  of the narrative.

Elements of open ended narrative:

  • Past to present – something has changed
  • Open ended future – up to us, not guaranteed, contingent on our agency / actions / decisions
  • Outward facing –  we cannot do it alone – it requires partnership in an ecosystem
  • Call to action – how do people participate, a compelling call to action for the community / partnership ecosystem
  • Is prospective, compels into the future, from passivity to activity and optimism

Workshop Process

The workshop process requires 1-2 days, depending on how much time participants have and the depth of exploration desired. Doing this in a one day workshop is intense. Doing this in a two day setting allows for more space of exploration.

The logical follow up to this process is to use the Futures Action Model to develop conceptual prototypes and models which become the basis for real-world experiments.

Conceptual Prototyping with Futures Action Model


The Futures Action Model is a conceptual prototyping and modelling framework, that provides the bridge between transformational futures thinking and powerful action, through real-world experiments. In order to develop breakthrough conceptual prototypes and models, we need to challenge and transform our images and understanding of the future. FAM provides a powerful way of integrating this futures thinking into conceptual prototypes and models, and is therefore the “keystone” method in the Anticipatory Experimentation / Bridge Model. It is also a useful framework to “wind-tunnel” policies and strategies against assumptions about the future and scenarios.


FAM model

The Futures Action Model (FAM) is a proven framework which enables the rapid prototyping and rigorous conceptual development of breakthrough strategies and models. FAM is a comprehensive approach in which team and network-based creative and analytic processes enable new strategies and models to emerge. It was designed to accelerate our ability to ideate breakthroughs that are the seeds of the futures we intend to grow.

FAM has two primary applications:

Business: Futures Action Model for Business Innovation

Government: Futures Action Model for Policy Ideation

Government: Futures Action Model for Wind-tunneling Policies and Strategies

Futures Action Model – Short Overview from Jose Ramos on Vimeo.

FAM has been applied in a number of settings, explained in this FAM resume. A comprehensive overview including theory, practice and some case studies is available here: FAM article.

Expanded Explanation

The Futures Action Model provides a way of exploring emerging futures and challenges for an issue, and developing creative and breakthrough initiatives to address them. There are 4 basic parts to it. Emerging Futures, global responses, the community of the initiative and the core model.

First, given a contemporary issue, such as climate change, transport challenges, public health, educational development, or any number of issues, there are ‘emerging futures’ associated with it. This includes any trends, emerging issues, existing scenarios and projections for this particular issue. The basic question here is: what is the nature of the emerging futures for this particular issue?

But then, there is a subset to this. There are some people around the world who are responding in creative ways to this issue. So here we explore global responses to this issue. But, why search globally for responses, when we’re dealing with an issue in a particular place? What does one person or groups creative response to an issue in their part of the world, have anything to do with what you are dealing with? The simple answer is that the world has become a great big learning laboratory.

For any emerging futures challenge there are also  global responses – all the ways in which people are responding from many walks of life. Paul Hawkens calls this a global auto immune response, because.. even though people may be separated by vast oceans, people may be experiencing similar challenges. And for any challenge there are people excited about tackling it, and many of these people or groups are connected through informal or formal networks across geographic regions.  So in this part of the process we map the variety of responses from around the world. Community initiatives, government policies, emerging technologies, networks, media, anything intended to create change in responding to this issue.

Within this global response space there are those that you may want to engage to develop your unique community of the initiative. This aspect is all about finding those people who care about collaborating with you in creative ways to address the issue that you care about. Your community of the initiative can be located across a city, a geographic region, an organization, or network or community. Building a community of the initiative entails finding ways of harnessing the energy, expertise and potential that exists in the world, locally and globally, to support our change initiatives. It may include experts, advisors, volunteers, funders, organizations, media groups, networks, anyone.

This community of the initiative forms a potential value ecology of the initiative. A value ecology is a set of stakeholders that find synergies through modes of dynamic exchange. It is like the metaphor of the bee and the flower. While very different species, they exchange value in fundamental ways. The flower gives the bee food. The bee helps pollinate the flower for sexual reproduction. And others may derive value from this…

And this takes us to the last aspect of the model, the initiative or enterprise that we are modeling. Here, we imagine and model an initiative that would effectively address the emerging challenge or issue that we are working on, by harnessing this community and developing a value ecology. It is the initiative and its core model that holds the logic of the value ecology, it organizes, develops and sustains this value ecology.

There are 3 elements of the core model:

  • First we want to develop the purpose of the initiative – why are we here? What is meaningful and inspiring?
  • Secondly, we want to develop the resource model of the initiative – how will we get the resources we need to do what we want to do?
  • Thirdly, we want to develop the governance model – how do we organise ourselves and make decisions about what to do?

These 3 elements of the core model makes the initiative effective in sustaining the emerging value ecology, which comprises a response the emerging futures for an issue.

Together the categories of the Futures Action Model, the core model, the Community of the Initiative, Global Responses and Emerging Futures, provides a solid foundation for imagining and developing an initiative.

1) The category of the community of the Initiative provides a bases for understanding who are the critical partners, collaborators and stakeholders, who have resources, connections, and potential that can support the initiative, and form a value ecology. The community of the initiative provides the context for the core model: its purpose, resource model and governance systems.

2)  The category of Global responses provides a rich tapestry of examples from around the world (a global learning laboratory) which can inform what gets developed locally. Scanning globally, we may find a significant gap in the field of responses, which the initiative is able to fill. Or perhaps what someone is doing in some other context can be adapted locally.


3) the category of Emerging futures provides a landscape of change within which the initiative is conceived.  Thus we can image and model an initiative  that does not just deal with yesterdays and today’s problems, but is created to thrive in today and tomorrow’s opportunities, risks and possibilities.

Vision Mapping


In the face of global disruption and change, discover the power to enact the future of your region and community.

Vision Mapping is a powerful way of reimagining our environments. It allows people to see their regions across many dimensions; the layers you create are only limited by the questions you ask. It provides a way to visualise future ecosystems and states in a granular way:

  • Use online editable maps to see the future of your environment and community in new ways
  • Develop the layers that are of interest to you, such as economic and social interactions, preferred futures and any other system relationship that is of interest to your stakeholders
  • By unlocking the power of people’s tacit knowledge, vision mapping gives communities and organisation new ways to understand the present, envision the future and identify actions to take tomorrow.

How our workshops work:

  • Action Foresight develop bespoke workshops created to meet the needs of our clients generally running over 1 – 2 days.
  • Our workshop are interactive environments using online maps and other methods.
  • We facilitate the inquiry as well as help you to learn the vision mapping process.
  • We provide dedicated support across research and development periods.

What our workshops deliver:

  • See the hidden layers in your area of interest
  • Identify the ecosystems to nurture to promote change
  • Develop a plan for your preferred future, grounded in the real geography of your community
  • Create a visual map of present and future states. Use this map to track change and update with new ideas.
  • Capture street level data (e.g. photos) integrated into the map

How vision mapping can be applied to your needs.

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Maps strengths, agents of change and inspiring ideas

Use tags and other icons to map strengths and seeds of change in your community and focus your activity to promote the change you need.

Read more

Understand how geography and systems shape your community

Using tagging and line interactions, map out the relationships between stakeholders and map preferred future ecosystems.

Read more

Uncover the stories that shape your community

Use map layers to look back and uncover the history and hidden narratives that shape your community and how these can be retold to shape a new future.

Read more


Strategic Foresight / Futures Training

We offer a range of training options in the use of strategic foresight for your organization that builds capacity into your organization for the long term.

Training allows people in your organization to have the core knowledge and skills to conduct in-house strategic foresight work.

We teach a number of foresight / futures studies methods and approaches including:

  • An introduction to the history of futures studies and foresight.
  • An introduction to the core ideas and concepts within futures studies and foresight.
  • The viable systems model and its relationship to foresight as elucidated by Peter Hayward.
  • Emerging issues analysis as developed by Graham Molitor.
  • Weak signals analysis as developed by Elina Hiltunen.
  • Environmental / Horizon Scanning basics.
  • The Six Pillars Methodology of Sohail Inayatullah.
  • The Three Horizons approach of Curry and Hodgson.
  • Jim Dator’s Four Futures approach.
  • The Action Foresight core methodology (includes the Futures Action Model).

We have a range of affordable training options, and are happy to discuss what fits best for your organization. Contact us for more information.


Anticipatory Governance: Strategic Design Service

One of the most pressing challenges faced today, is how to develop government decision-making processes that are responsive to long-term societal challenges and which are flexible in turbulent and changing environments. Anticipatory Governance strategies exists which can help governments and organizations to choose and design the right approaches to building-in foresight capacity into their organization.

Our service is based on comprehensive research and expertise in the field, developed through a research fellowship in 2012 at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (National University of Singapore), where I researched, designed and delivered a course on foresight strategies for public policy for Masters students. The fellowship led to this research paper: Anticipatory Governance.

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Since then, I have helped governments in Victoria, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, and Mexico City to use Anticipatory Governance thinking to design strategies that support long term social navigation.

Anticipatory governance describes a number of approaches to building-in foresight capacity into policy development and governance processes. Anticipatory governance strategies are used by dozens of governments from around the world. In development for over 40 years, they include a variety of strategies. The research at NUS uncovered a ‘design space’ for Anticipatory Governance, in particular the following seven strategies.

  1. Science, Technology and Innovation Foresight (STIF)
  2. Anticipatory Democracy (AD)
  3. Futures Commissions (FC)
  4. Foresight Informed Strategic Planning (FISP)
  5. Transition Management (TM)
  6. Integrated Governmental Foresight (IGF)
  7. Network Foresight (NF)

Taken together,  the variety of approaches comprise a strategic design space for Anticipatory Governance.

This unique consulting service helps organizations to choose the right approaches to apply. We diagnose the key needs, issues, challenges and intentions that need to inform an organization’s development of their unique Anticipatory Governance strategy.  We help to conceptualize, design and tailor the Anticipatory Governance approach best suited for the organisations circumstances. We offer critical guidance in putting an Anticipatory Governance system in place.


  1. Awareness and depth understanding of a variety of Anticipatory Governance strategies.
  2. Support in evaluating which Anticipatory Governance strategies match the contextual circumstances and organisational needs.
  3. Support in designing the most effective and appropriate strategy mix for an organization.


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