IAF Methods

Imaging the Future

by for . Last edit was about 3 years ago
180 + 26 - 50
This can be used as part of a strategic planning process, a vision workshop, project planning and organizational development workshop
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To create a series of images of the future as a means of exploring possible action. 


You will be able to upload attachments once after you create the method.


  • Tables and chairs
  • Flipcharts
  • and markers



Setting: The set of pictures should be photocopied for each participant.

Types of participants: People comfortable with using intuitions will be better prepared to do this workshop

Ideal conditions: Workshop setting

Pre-Work Required: A focus question should be created betweent the facilitator and the management team.

Type of Facilitator-Client Relationship: Some level of trust is required.

Facilitator personality fit: Not to risk adverse.


We want to look at our individual images of the future and see what those images tell us. We will be using a technique used by Garth Morgan in his book Imagination: The art of Creative Management.We will be using a lot of creativity and our own imagination for this exercise. The exercise can be used in a number of ways. It can look at any relationship, your style of teaching or managing, the management team, clients, suppliers, etc.

Note: "The Future" should be a more concrete issue. In the New Learning Paradigm Mini Conference, the Issue was how to create the conditions in a company in which learning takes place without the need for a training department.

1. Turn to page ____ in your workbook (see file under downloads). Look at the images on the page (This might be supplemented with an overhead sheet.)

2. I want you to think of the future, not some idealized utopia, but one you would really like to see. Think of any image that comes to mind about that future.

3. I would like each of us to draw a picture about the future, as you would like to see it. You do not need to be a great artist. We are only interested in the ways you see the future.

4. Have everyone put up his or her image. We want to spend some time reflecting on these images.

a. Have every one explain their image.
b. Do you have any questions for any of your colleagues about what they put on the wall?
c. Which image struck you in some way? (From this question on you might want to capture the answers on two flipcharts one for elements and themes and one for future directions.)
d. Which images have elements in common?
e. What are some common themes in the images?
f. What are some unique elements?
g. What are we saying about our hopes for the future?
h. What do you hear us calling for?

5. Review the note taken on the two flipcharts. Ask for each flipchart, What are additional items you would like to add?

6. We would like to now organize these into similar images of the future. Give the first item on the first list a mark such as +. Ask, What other items are the same kind of vision as this one? Give the similar vision elements the same mark +.

7. Mark the next unmarked item with a different mark and repeat the question.

8. Continue this process until all of the items are marked.

9. We now want to give each of the sets of marked items a name. I would like use to give three word titles (This can be optional but I find it useful in creating memorable titles.). The third word is a noun and the object of the vision. The first two word are adjectives so you end up with something like: Regular Management Reviews or Anti-Drug Teen Posters.

10. Go through the list and have the group give titles. Put the titles on a separate flipchart.

11. Here is what we say is the vision of this group ? read the list of names.

12. Are there any additions or changes that we should make?


1. We want to take a look at the session. What is an activity we have done?

2. What was fun?

3. What was less fun?

4. What have you learned?

5. What are the next steps for us?

Thank the group and move to the next item on the agenda.


Follow-Up Required: If this is used for a plan then the next step would be necessary.

Usual or Expected Outcomes: A vision of the organization

Potential pitfalls: Participants uncomfortable with the art / image part of the exercise.

How success is evaluated: The vision is agreed to.


Source: Jon Jenkins

Derived from: This exercise was adapted from Imagination: Gareth Morgan's The Art of Creative Management, pgs 22-39.

History of Development: It was developed as an alternative for a more standard vision workshop

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