“Remembering” Alternative Futures

Stacey Chang | 01/15/2019

FORESIGHT’s architects know we can’t predict a guaranteed, “correct” future—the real future doesn’t actually exist yet, because we are all in the process of creating it together. But we can aim to better understand what the future is likely to hold. Shell, the global energy company, calls this “alternate memories of the future.”

It turns out that we use the same part of our brain to think about the future as we use to remember the past—so in a way, when we use foresight, we are “remembering” a possible future. In other words, when we try to imagine the future, we naturally base it on what we remember from the past. In this video, Shell offers an engaging primer on how their Shell Scenarios work. These scenarios emphasize seeking new and varied perspectives on the past and present to break us out of our own limited thinking in order to create alternate memories of the future that offer more insight than what any of us could generate with our own memories alone.

It’s extremely high quality and does a great job using the video medium to combine visuals, audio, and animation to help get its points across, which makes it an excellent resource for introducing colleagues to the basic ideas behind futures scenario planning. In that spirit, use the social media buttons to share this post, and weigh in with your alternate memories of the future using the hashtag #FutureForHealth.

Shell International, Ltd., Navigating an Uncertain Future (2017).

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