Association of Professional Futurists

Most Significant Futures Works (MSFW)

Past MSFW Winners

2016 Most Significant Futures Works (MFSW) Awards

Category 1 Advance the methodology and practice of foresight and futures studies

Note: All three are equal winners….no “places”

The ‘Scenario Exploration System’ (SES) is a serious game that  uses engagement techniques from gaming to reshape the workshop experience and shows how serious games can advance the methodology and practice of foresight in policy contexts related to real-world challenges.

“The game offers a way for people to experience scenarios without having developed them themselves, and I believe this is of great value. It’s clearly being used effectively by the stakeholders.”

A collection of eight articles on the state of the art in intuition in foresight. It makes it easier for one to get acquainted, reacquainted, or expand their understanding of this under-appreciated but increasingly important approach to our work.

“An important overview of why Intuition is a legitimate futures methodology…synthesizes the research and thinking around intuition as well as introducing new approaches.”

Describes the author’s approach to applied foresight, presents case studies, and introduces the author’s newest methodological innovations.

“Being able to see the application of techniques in the case studies is invaluable as a practitioner trying to adapt different approaches will extend the reach and provide a clearer path for many practitioners.”

Category 2 Analyze a significant future issue 

The ability to identify valid and significant innovation areas based on scenario-implications is a significant achievement. This report is not gathering dust but forms part of the foundation of a stakeholder coalition actively working towards the report’s normative future. The scenarios and recommendations are therefore directly applicable and already being applied.

“An issue area of clear importance…..the futures approach includes using of widely diverse stakeholders , mega-trends, and scenarios, and is elegantly written with colorful graphics that made it easy to read.”  

Category 3:  Illuminate the future through literary or artistic works

A powerful, concise, and engaging 15-minute short film that informs without hyperbole. It crafts a persuasive argument that intelligent software and automation capable of performing many of the jobs humans rely on for their livelihood already exist, and will eventually displace us.

“6.3 million views, 3000 subsequent comments, all discussing consequences and alternative. Not sure if that’s a lot on YouTube, but it’s more than most futurists contact in a lifetime.”

2015 Most Significant Futures Works (MFSW) Awards

Category 1: Advance the methodology and practice of foresight and futures studies

The Thing from the Future (link) Stuart Candy and Jeff Watson, The Situation Lab, game

The Thing from the Future is an imagination game that challenges players to collaboratively and competitively describe objects from a range of alternative futures. The object is to come up with the most entertaining and thought-provoking descriptions of hypothetical objects from different near-, medium-, and long-term futures by playing a card game. The four types of cards are: arc cards (possible futures), terrain cards (contexts, places, and topics), object and mood cards.

Jury comments: “The Thing From The Future game looks well-suited to address a big white space in the extension of foresight thinking to a broader audience and to develop competence and confidence in the practice of foresight in a wide range of settings.”

(link) Ted Farrington, Keith Henson, & Christian Crews, article: Research-Technology Management, March/April 2012, pp.26-33

The authors describes a massive project that used a potpourri of strategic foresight methods – including an Internal Futures Audit, Weak Signals Environmental Scan, Implications Wheels,  Technology Forecast , Inductive Scenarios, Participatory Futures, and Point of View Options – carried out by a network of futurists to influence the strategic research agenda at Pepsico.

Jury comments: “Used proven methodology in a new way and very effectively. The presentation and flow worked well.”

Category 2: Analyze a significant future issue

Mutative Media: Communication Technologies and Power Relations in the Past, Present, and Futures (link) James A. Dator, John A. Sweeney, and Aubrey M. Yee, monograph: Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

A monograph-length investigation into the nature of social change through the lens of how a range of communication technologies in a variety of cultural contexts has (and has not) impacted the mechanisms and flow of power. It offers four alternative futures, including narrative scripts used for experiential scenarios, and outlines the prototype of a hybrid, mixed-reality game within four very different environments and conditions.

Jury comments: “Is a proof of concept of the ‘Mānoa School’ of futures theory and methods, that both integrates traditional social science methods such as history and political science with futures method, and additionally introduces novel ‘gamification’ approach for experiential exploration of scenarios; and shows how futures work can be fun.”

Category 3: Illuminate the future through literary or artistic works

Byologic/Zed.TO (link1 & link2) Trevor Haldenby, cross-platform narrative

“An 8-month narrative told in real-time through an integrated combination of interactive theatrical events and online content. It told the story of the beginning of the end of the world, from a viral pandemic created by ByoLogyc, a fictional Toronto-based biotech company.” They had 8 live events, involved 75 performers, 333 crowdfunders, 3,500 event participants, and 35,000 online engagements. The combination of live events, a fictional website (that looks quite “real”) and the use of social media, brought the future to life in a stunning fashion.

Jury comments: “The most outstanding work of this list … briefed at the 2014 ProDev to a very positive reaction.”

(link) Noah Raford, Exhibit

The Museum of Future Government Services, launched at the Government Summit in Dubai, 2014, was perhaps the largest concerted effort by a public institution to create images of the future explicitly designed to shift policy conversations and accelerate innovation. The Museum was structured as an immersive, interactive experience that explored the future of key government services. Museum may be the world’s largest “design futures” exhibition to date (not counting Disney’s Epcot, for example).

Jury comments: “This is highly innovative and relies on an experiential approach to futuring … it provides is the possibility of stepping outside the Country Club Futures scene and providing more culturally nuanced but still globally significant artifacts.”

Hieroglyph: Stories & Visions for a Better Future (link) Kathryn Cramer, Ed Finn, and Neal Stephenson; project

Project Hieroglyph at Arizona State University Center for Science and Imagination was inspired by Stephenson’s call for positive science fiction futures and resulted in this first anthology of short stories. Authors include Elizabeth Bear, Cory Doctorow, Bruce Sterling, and Karl Schroeder who aimed to write works of “techno-optimism” that “challenge us to do Big Stuff.

Jury Comments: “An interesting blend of futures purposes with fiction … with potential for broad dissemination.”

 2014 Awards

Category One: Advance the methodology and practice of foresight and futures studies

1st Place

Teaching about the Future by Peter Bishop & Andy Hines, Palgrave MacMillan, 2012

Teaching about the Future by Peter Bishop & Andy Hines, Palgrave MacMillan, 2012. This text summarizes the Houston Foresight program curriculum in a comprehensive fashion, so that those seeking to introduce foresight to their schools have a conceptual guide from which to select and design curricula or classes of their own. The book is organized into three parts:
• Part One, Understanding, contains the conceptual backdrop to thinking about the future.
• Part Two, Mapping, describes how to construct forecasts of potential future outcomes or alternative futures.
• Part Three, Influencing, explores how to take action to shape the future. Individual topics range from the basics of scanning, forecasting, visioning, and planning to social change, systems thinking, and alternative perspectives.

Jury comments: “The book represents a milestone in academia generally by successfully ‘bridging the gap’ between theory and practice.” Another judge observed that “grounded in many years of practice, Teaching about the Future frames the futures field beautifully. The book’s structure and style render the material eminently accessible to a variety of audiences.”

2nd Place

The Five Futures Glasses: How to See and Understand More of the Future with the Eltville Model, Pero Micic, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010

The Five Futures Glasses: How to See and Understand More of the Future with the Eltville Model, Pero Micic, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. The book derived from Pero’s long years of practice as well as his doctoral dissertation. The five futures glasses described in this book make it easier to see and understand more of the future. Many problems in management and in life result from people’s different views on the future. People subconsciously assume that everyone understands how they think and talk about the future in the same way as they do. They assume that everyone is wearing the same ‘futures glasses’ which often causes misunderstanding, frustration and failure.

Jury Comments: “This is an important book for foresight and planning professionals and consultants as it explains step-by-step a comprehensive strategy development method and process to be aware of and to add/adapt to their own toolkit.” Another judge noted that it provides “a good overview of the importance of future thinking and how methods/ perspectives have evolved over time.”

3rd Place

Zia Sardar’s book Future: All That Matters

Future: All that Matters, Ziauddin Sardar, McGraw-Hill, 2014. Zia shows that thinking and speculating about the future has always been a part of human history, but exploring the futures in a systematic and scientific way is a recent phenomenon.

Jury Comments: This is the ideal book to answer the question ‘so what’s futures all about anyway?’ Another judge advocated: “If you’ve ever had someone ask you ‘so what is this futures stuff you do, all about?’ this book is where to point them.”

Noah Raford’s presentation of The Future of Cities: Three Scenarios for Urban Futures

The Future of Cities: Three Scenarios for Urban Futures, Noah Raford, Presentation, June 15, 2010. This large scenario planning effort as part of the University of Oxford’s “Future of Cities” program that interviewed thought leaders and extracted a variety of themes and drivers in using a traditional STEEP framework and synthesized these into three scenarios through several workshops.

Jury Comments: “Extremely well done! True value…from urban planning, to resource management, to business.” And as you’d want from a presentation, a judge noted that “The pictures were very effective” in Noah’s scenario presentation – perhaps an understatement if you have seen that beautiful deck.

Nominees Voted On

Aspirational Futures Clem Bezold, article in Journal of Futures Studies, May 2009, 13(4): 81 – 90; Think Like a Futurist by Cecily Sommers, book Jossey-Bass, 2012.

Category Two: Analyze a significant future issue

1st Place

Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World, Emma Marris, Bloomsbury, 2011

Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World, Emma Marris, Bloomsbury, 2011. A paradigm shift is roiling the environmental world. For decades people have unquestioningly accepted the idea that our goal is to preserve nature in its pristine, pre-human state. But many scientists have come to see this as an outdated dream that thwarts bold new plans to save the environment and prevents us from having a fuller relationship with nature. Emma Marris argues convincingly that it is time to look forward and create the “rambunctious garden,” a hybrid of wild nature and human management.

Jury Comments: “….highly original, very well supported by experts and evidence, and presented a unique perspective on an urgent challenge…. Another judge suggested that it did a “terrific job of challenging the current paradigm of ecological restoration.”

Nominees Voted On

Leading from the Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Eco-System, 
Otto Scharmer & Katrin Kauffer, book, Berrett-Koehler, 2013

Category Three:  Illuminate the future through literary or artistic works

The casting of “no” votes led to an outcome of no winners in Category 3 (literary and artistic works). When the program was reviewed and revised a few years back, it was decided to make the criteria “tougher” and err on the side of too few winners rather than too many. Thus, the process is set up in a way that a “no” vote from a judge weighs very strongly.

Nominees Voted On

Nexus & Crux, Ramez Naam,book, Angry Robot, 2012 & 2013
Her, Written, directed and produced by Spike Jonez, Movie Warner Bros, December 2013

2013 Awards

Category One: Advance the methodology and practice of foresight and futures studies

1st Place

Foresight Maturity Model by Terry Grim

2nd Place

A New Methodology for Anticipating STEEP Surprises by Oliver Markley

3rd Place

Seeing in Multiple Horizons: Connecting Futures to Strategy by Andrew Curry and Anthony Hodgson

Category Two: Works that Contribute to the Understanding of the Future of a Significant Area

1st Place

Anticipatory Governance: Practical Upgrades by Leon Fuerth with Evan Faber

2nd Place

2052: A Global Forecast for the Next 40 Years by Jorgen Randers
Category Three: Presents New Images of the Future

1st Place

Food for the City by Stroom den Haag

2012 AWARDS

CATEGORY 1: ADVANCE THE METHODOLOGY AND PRACTICE OF FORESIGHT AND FUTURES STUDIES.

1ST PLACE

IT’S YOUR FUTURE… MAKE IT A GOOD ONE!

by Verne Wheelwright (2010) nominated by Andy Hines. In this book and workbook, strategic planning and futures methods from scanning to creating preferred futures are adapted to the personal level.

2ND PLACE

THE BLACK SWAN

by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2007) nominated by Joel Barker. This book examines highly unpredictable events.

Jury Comments: “This is an important book because it takes a strong position on the openness of what happens … The basic, repeated, well supported and illustrated argument about unknowability is central to advancing a discipline of futures.”

CATEGORY 2: ANALYZE A SIGNIFICANT FUTURE ISSUE

1ST PLACE

PROSPERITY WITHOUT GROWTH: TRANSITION TO A SUSTAINABLE ECONOMY

by Professor Tim Jackson, UK Sustainable Development Commission (2011) nominated by Cindy Frewen. In response to the fiscal crisis, and unsustainable growth and environmental impacts, this study recommends decoupling prosperity and consumption, a focus on fairness and sharing, and living within ecological constraints.

2ND PLACE

THE BIGGEST WAKE UP CALL IN HISTORY

by Richard Slaughter (2011) nominated by Cindy Frewen. Slaughter uses integral futures to frame impending environmental crises and collective approaches to solve them.

CATEGORY 3: ILLUMINATE THE FUTURE THROUGH LITERARY OR ARTISTIC WORKS

1ST PLACE

EVOKE!

by Jane McGonigal (2010), a massive multi-player online game; nominated by Peter Bishop.

2009 AWARDS

The second round of awards was made in early 2009. Expanded to include digital publications, fourteen works were nominated.

TOP THREE HONORS AWARDS

SUPERSTRUCT

by IFTF/Jane McGonigal, Jamais Cascio & Kathi Vian (2008), an online, multi-player game environment involving five critical global issues for the next decade.

INTEGRAL FUTURES

Special Issue of Futures (Mar 2008), edited by Richard Slaughter, Peter Hayward (APF), Joseph Voros.

SIX PILLARS: FUTURES THINKING FOR TRANSFORMING

in Foresight (2008) by Sohail Inayatullah.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

SIX DEGREES: OUR FUTURE ON A HOTTER PLANET

(2008) by Mark Lynas

FUTURE SAVVY: IDENTIFYING TRENDS TO MAKE BETTER DECISIONS, MANAGE UNCERTAINTY, AND PROFIT FROM CHANGE

(2008) by Adam Gordon (APF).

BORN DIGITAL: UNDERSTANDING THE FIRST GENERATION OF DIGITAL

(2008) by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser.