Varied Perspectives on the Past, Present, and Future

Krishna Patel | 03/12/2019

As you may already know, we started FORESIGHT by kicking off Futures Scanning. This means we are using powerful and proven futures planning techniques to broadly scan the health and well-being landscape and other publicly-available information to identify trends and detect the early signals of emerging issues that can give us clues about where the future is headed. But taking seriously our responsibility to hold up FORESIGHT’s primary purpose of equitably envisioning and bringing about a new future for health and well-being in the United States, those of us designing this work (the FORESIGHT architects) saw something important was missing.

We wondered: how could we sufficiently capture the breadth of human experience—in both the past and present—within the nation’s existing system for health, and the aspirations of a wide range of people living in the United States? We knew from Shell’s and others’ experiences with futures work (see Stacey Chang’s January 15 post) that it is highly important to seek new and varied perspectives on the past and present to break us out of our own limited thinking; we need to create alternate memories of the future that offer more insight than what any of us could generate with our own memories alone. My understanding of how we got to where we are today is likely to be different from yours. And acknowledging that meant FORESIGHT needed a way to get more perspectives on the table.

We settled on an elegant way to learn about people’s lived experiences: ask.

In the coming months, FORESIGHT’s public opinion researchers, led by Mike Perry, will collaborate with up to 15 regional connectors (identified by our regional philanthropic partners) to learn from residents about their lived experiences with health and well-being as well as their aspirations for how a new system for health and well-being could work.

Regional leaders will determine the best ways to reach a broad array of people in their own regions, considering geographical, social, cultural, and identity diversity. Whenever possible, they will recruit additional local connectors to invite residents to engage with the process in the places they already gather, with people they already trust.

FORESIGHT will approach regional resident engagement first by interviewing about 40 people from varied populations—favoring underserved groups that may otherwise risk being overlooked—to learn which questions allow residents to best share their insights about health and well-being. Then we will support regions along two tracks: for some, only using a crowdsourcing platform called SenseMaker will be the best fit, while for other regions, a combination of SenseMaker and in-person gatherings will be appropriate.

Ultimately, we’ll blend residents’ insights (and those of other key stakeholders) with our Futures Scanning results to create a foundation from which we can forecast some possible futures. Ensuring equitable and meaningful design of futures scenarios requires that residents’ experiences must drive which trends should rise to the top when developing alternative scenarios, or stories, of how things might change in the future.

And speaking of varied perspectives: we want to hear from you! What are your hopes for the health and well-being of future generations? Comment below, and reach out to us on social media with the hashtag #FutureForHealth.

The world is changing fast. It’s time we design a future for health together.
Our work begins with FORESIGHT.