Envisioning Eco-Topia

What is your vision of the future?

What actions are necessary to fulfil the vision?

What approach is necessary to guide and motivate the action?

The idea with envisioning the future is not to create a fixed vision and spend time working towards manifesting that particular vision. Although this approach can sometimes be used by companies.  For  example, Konica Vision 2050 consists of a goal to “Work to promote restoration and preservation of biodiversity”.

Rather than working towards a fixed goal, a vision is something that can guide us. Exploring possibilities is a vital part of our thinking and envisioning different possible futures can help us make decisions to ensure we are going in the best possible direction. Envisioning is a way to evaluate present conditions and identifying problems.

The term possibility is often defined as potential, and the search for possibilities could be the aim of thinking. Possibilities are potentials and gateways for opportunities.

You could imagine a sea of possibilities. Often you are not aware of these possibilities. To get access to these possibilities opens up all approaches of thinking – logical, critical, and lateral. Admittedly, in a lateral approach to thinking possibilities are regarded as vital. Nevertheless, exploring possibilities are important in logical and critical

Admittedly, in a lateral approach to thinking possibilities are regarded as vital. Nevertheless, exploring possibilities are important in logical and critical apporaches to thinking. You search for other ways of looking upon a situation, or other ways of expressing the same thing. This search for other possibilities may lead to a change in the way we look upon the situation. Ultimately, creativity is a way of searching for possibilities and we need to be creative when we explore eco-topia.

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Today, we have access to a range of thinking tools as well as materials that can help us to visualize our ideas. A vision should be creative, imaginative, ethical and even poetic.

A way to kickstart the thinking is to use PO, provocative operation. When using a lateral method such as Provocation or PO it is not necessary to explore how we got to a certain point. The value that we get from using a provocation and the ideas that are generated is the main aspect. The aim is to jump off the main thinking road and explore the situation from a new point.

A provocation is a new starting point and may be the first step towards a new idea and approach that can be investigated.

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Dance with flARmingos is a mixed reality  experience that features a interspecies dance between humans and flamingos. This art installation is an exercise in going beyond a human-centered worldview into a more ecological approach. The flamingo is a victim of environmental neglect and by thinking about ways that humans and flamingos can coexist we may get inspiration for what our eco-vision will look like.

Envisioning a future without gloom and doom is also important. The critical appraoch to thinking should take place after we have envisioned possible exciting futures.  There is certainly a great deal to be worried about: climate change, air pollution, declining food and water systems.

It is deceptively easy to think that focusing on the negative can drive action. Negative messages and news get more attention and yield more interest and fundraising, yet, it is important to tell another story and envisoning a positive post-carbon economy can spark ideas. And we need ideas and innovations.

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Working backwards from the vision might help us. APC,  one of Edward de Bono’s Thinking Tools, is a crystallisation of the process of deliberately trying to find alternatives.

Characteristic for this approach is that the thinking departs from the existing situation and tries to move forward to the desired situation. An opposite approach could be to depart from the ideal situation  and working backwards to the original situation.

Many creative thinking techniques use backward thinking as a strategy. Edward de Bono recommends challenging the current situation by setting up a provocation by wishful thinking, an ideal world (Utopia), which per definition is beyond reach, not feasible in the real world. The setting up of the provocation is eased by using the phrase: “Would it not fantastic, if …”

In a study, it was investigated if goal-planning methods affected motivation and pursuit of goals. Some of the participants planned their steps in chronological order. The other participants worked in reverse, planning the steps they would take just before their goal and working backward in time until they reached the step nearest in the future.

For a complex task preparing backward helped the participants anticipate the necessary steps better and it also helped them to follow the original plan to reach to goal.

Imagination has been shown to have a positive impact on motivation. What future do you imagine?

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