“A Future story is a simple, scaled-down approach to inviting groups and teams to describe the future in a way that is vivid, felt and credible. By shifting to a future forward tense and lively description, this future then becomes more real” (Sparknow website)
From Madelyn Blair's paper The Story of the Future, Told in a Day: “The process of creating Future Stories becomes a container within which participants feel inspired to explore new ideas to contribute to the future. They begin by exploring what is available from the present that can be used to build the future. In other words, Future Stories are grounded in the reality of today. The descriptions of the future that the stories explore must reflect the here-and-now, rather than be a vision that is unattainable”.
“Shifting the date and looking back from the future – talking about the future as if it has already happened – supports groups constrained by unproductive or
‘stuck’ patterns and enables the psychological shifts necessary for change and positive action. It can create a benchmark to look back on when the actual date
arrives.” (SDC's Guide to Using Story and Narrative Tools in Development Co-operation, Practitioner’s Version)
Potential applications of the Future Story:
Different processes can be used to come up with Future Stories. Madelyn Blair's paper The Story of the Future, Told in a Day details a one day workshop process that she undertook with a group of 40 people from teams that had just been merged in a reorganization.
The following process is a shorter one, taken from SDC's Guide to Using Story and Narrative Tools in Development Co-operation, Practitioner’s Version (p.p. 35-37):
1. Wind the clock forward to a specific date in the future – anything between 6 months and a year on works best. Establish with the group(s) you are working with that this date is now the present date.
2. Invite groups to work together to construct a short story on the particular theme you wish them to imagine together, e.g. ‘It is x date, and the road building project has been very successful. What is life like today?’ ‘It is x date, and the health centre is fully operation and regarded as a great success. What is it like working there?’
3. Allow a period of around 30 – 45 minutes for the group to develop and rehearse the story, ready to tell it back to the other groups.
4. Offer them the Handout ‘What makes a Future Story work?’ (see page 37 of the SDC Guide) as an aid.
5. Be specific about the audience they imagine reporting back to – e.g. another group starting the same kind of project? Somebody senior? An external conference?
6. Be clear that the telling time should be no more than 3 – 4 minutes.
Guidance notes from the SDC Guide:
Future story, storytelling, organisational change, planning, team building
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