I am presenting Spot The Future at Foresight for Development. What should I say?

Calling all futurespotters here. I have the honour of being asked to give a talk about Spot The Future at an event called Foresight for Development. It will take place in Istanbul on 16-17th of June, under the banners of UNDP-CIS. I am excited about the opportunity to meet people who do good work in foresight, like Noah Raford: however, the timing is not right. @Inga Popovaite and @Benjamin Renoust are hard at work, but the draft reports will only be ready at our Futurespotters event at the end of the month. The final ones will be then written on the basis of the focus group work we will carry out in Tbilisi.

I will focus mostly on the methodology, of course: but still, it seems like a shame not to give any hint at what is coming through the data. After a conversation with @Nadia, I propose to say the following:

  • STF methodology has been surprisingly successful in digging out interesting people and projects at the edge that were not on the radar of UNDP country offices. Examples are Jumpstart and the open data scene in Georgia; the tactical urbanism scene in Egypt, as well as individual innovators like @Abdo with his Jozour project or @amiridina with her Oasis Game. The surprise element comes from the fact that we were able to do this without ever having been in the country and without speaking the language, just working with local connectors. The exception seems to be Armenia, where @Lurglomond and his crew already had a good network and we were not as successful as making additions to it (@Said Hamideh is now running a new outreach operation on Armenian Facebook, let's see if we can make some new discoveries).
  • There is a clear cross-country thread: everybody seems to perceive the need for more collaborations and better information spread across the three STF countries. 
  • Efforts in fostering collaboration seem to have high returns. Following the physical workshops, we have seen a wave of collaboration and scheming, certainly in-country (Georgians have been holding bi-weekly meetings ever since), but also with some spillover – check out this Armenian-Egyptian conversation about carpooling.  It will be interesting to see if more cross-country collaboration spawns at Futurespotters in Tbilisi.
  • Foresight done the Edgeryders way seems to be biased towards action. People are happy to talk about what they do, and that their experiences are used as datapoints for foresight. But, in return for their involvement, they ask for action opportunities. A fairly concrete project about open source software is being discussed in Georgia, with the involvement of edgeryders from Egypt, Sweden and the UK.

If confirmed, these data could be interpreted as a sign that innovators at the edge are reorganizing to take advantage of collective intelligence phenomena, working in a distributed but more informationally connected way. Policy implications would be clear: efforts in bringing people together, building community scaffolding structure, seeding skills, and fostering horizontal community-to-community relationships are likely to help changemakers doing whatever it is they want to do, which will differ from country to country.

Does this make any sense? Pinging Inga, but also @Noemi, @Inge, @Vahagn, @Hazem, @AhmedMRabie@gazbee sorour, @Khatuna, @Lurglomond

In case you are wondering about the photo, it is there because I am riding my motorcycle to Istanbul. My last ride, very probably: ending my motorcycling career in style :slight_smile:

1 Like


All your points seem right, and I would place a clear focus on your last - the focus on Action needs to stand out in future exercises like these, pointed at from the very beginning of a project as the light at the end of the tunnel and an implicit promise or reward to participants in foresight.

The social contract with those who engage in the conversation and lend their input is crucial. While for UNDP digging out change makers might be of great value, for change makers themselves this may be not as much (we should definitely ask during the focus groups what attracted them to the project in the first place). The shorter the timeframe for a project like this, the harder it is to deliver on that action (collaboration takes time, “Come together. Inspire one another. Learn from each other” is harder to put your finger on), and the better the chances if there is a concrete proposal from the beginning: a challenge to solve, a prize, a strong commitment from international organisations or donors…

networking is BIG

collaboration comes within the networking .

yes its hard to put ur finger on and spot it and it continues  or even starts after the time frame of the project .

some other examples  @simam is doing her workshop for kids in @labanita 's Rasheed 22 coworking space .

@Dina visited @Abdo 's workshop and possibly some collaboration will happen in the near future .

for me I am waiting to come back to cairo to meet and possibly collaborate with @asmaa_kamel or @labanita  in the educational field or with @amiridina and @monarizk in the participatory planning or the NGOs CBOs thing and link some networks who r not on the platform .

this approach this much different than the one challenge to solve or a prize or something , and not all changemakers who r also not mapped with the UNDP or other institutes didn’t join because of different reasons ( being busy with their own challenges , didn’t see this initiative going anywhere , don’t trust the big institutions or even don’t think about themselves as "changemakers " or underestimate their work , or for the language barrier which is still an issue ) BUT actually reaching some and networking will create a mass that attracts others and it is working as we can all see  . but as mentioned its hard to spot and hard to evaluate as it is a naturally grown thing not a prize to win or a proposal to deliver.

1 Like

Some addition

  • The majority of activities/projects/ideas come from capitals.
  • The change makers in all three countries are opting for "real action" instead of just networking and sharing ideas. For example, a new collective initiative that emerged in Egypt after workshops, so far proves inspirational component of off-line meetings and indicates a will for real action and real life results. However, time is needed to see if the primary motivation will be enough to bring the results. 
  • Gender equality, public urban spaces, infrastructure, transportation, education, waste and pollution, unemployment, poverty, personal life improvement, various aspects of personal freedom and human rights - these are issues that concern active change makers from these three countries.
1 Like

Thanks everyone!

Very useful, guys. :slight_smile: