What We Do
IFTF has pioneered tools and methods for building foresight ever since its founding days. Co-founder Olaf Helmer was the inventor of the Delphi Method, and early projects developed cross-impact analysis and scenario tools. Today, IFTF is methodologically agnostic, with a brimming toolkit that includes the following favorites:
In a world of rapid and constant change, foresight is a core competency that turns managers into leaders and creates organizations that are more resilient, more nimble, and more vibrant. Now IFTF can help you build this core competency and bring it into your own organization—or the organizations you work with. More »
In a world of abundant data, ubiquitous social media, and participatory platforms—where impossible futures can become overnight realities—traditional strategic planning tools are ripe for transformation. More »
As William Gibson famously said, “The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.” IFTF Learning Journeys are highly interactive, curated encounters with the bits and pieces of the future that are already playing out in the Silicon Valley. As our Executive Director Marina Gorbis writes in "What Makes the Valley Tick" (HBR), the region is about more than the big universities, venture capitalists, and tech companies. It’s about the new social practices, small-scale organizations, DIY projects, and emergent communities that come out of the intersection of techies with artists, social activists, and tinkerers, working side by side to hack ways of working, creating, and organizing. More »
From a Foresight-Insight-Action workshop to inform your strategic planning process to a Remaking Philanthropy workshop to help your philanthropic organization explore the future landscape of giving, IFTF can work collaboratively with your teams, your leaders, your entire organization, or your public to create custom foresight that leads to insight and shapes action in the present. More »
In a time of rapid innovation, signals of change are all around us. The challenge is to see the big future trends that emerge from these “weak signals.” To discern these larger patterns, we need frameworks. These frameworks help us collate and categorize signals. More »
Ethnographic Foresight: Themes That Matter
IFTF was an early leader in using ethnographic observation and interviews to go beyond the obvious and uncover the hidden meanings of emerging tools and practices. We anticipated many of the themes that shaped the diffusion of computing and the Internet into homes of people all over the world. Early on, we recognized from in-home interviews the importance of personal health ecologies that have come to define the broad consumer health economy of today. Several of our staff are trained in anthropology, and we collaborate regularly with Jan English-Lueck and the Department of Anthropology at San Jose State University to build a global database of ethnographic observations.
Expert Voices: Aggregated Visions
Experts have a very special part to play in envisioning the various futures that might shape our lives in ten to twenty years. They have depth of understanding and experience in the many substrates of the future: technology, medicine, science, finance, environment, and even religion. Among our favorite experts are those we call “practical visionaries.” These are people who are working in the trenches to make a new future, drawing on visions that stem from—and, in turn, shape—their practical innovations. We may interview experts individually or bring them together for a day or longer to help them think together and construct shared scenarios from their divergent viewpoints.
Just as we need a human-computer interface to tap the power of computing in everything from our phones to our thermostats, we need a human-future interface to tap into the power of the future to help us make decisions today. At IFTF, we are working to create this interface by designing Artifacts from the Future and experiences that let us experience the future viscerally in the present. These design projects demand more than just the “facts” about the future. More »