Using Anticipatory futures in education
Your educational setting has a purpose; the reason for its existence and the ‘why’ for your actions and efforts. The ongoing economic and social turbulence flowing from amongst other things; the pandemic, Brexit, and the impact of climate change, should provide an opportunity to reflect on how you and your colleagues can be both hindered and enabled in delivering to this purpose by external and internal challenges, and the impact that this has on all of those working there.
By building and maintaining organisational resilience, your setting will be able to move beyond having been ‘robust’ through its recent actions; responding (bouncing with) and recovering (bouncing back), by enhancing its ‘anti-fragility’ to grow and emerge stronger (bouncing forward).
Organisational resilience refers to the capacity for continuous improvement that is attentive to the human factors. Each of our lived experiences in the past year have been different; the impact of the changes that have occurred are individual and in conjunction with the diversity of all our life experiences, these must be taken into consideration for your educational setting to consciously ‘bounce forward’.
Organisational resilience is founded on an active absorptive capacity comprised of 2 key elements. Firstly, on continual vigilance, of both the internal and external environment; this facilitates being better able to ‘see’. To ‘see’ for understanding, more and faster, and to ‘see’ beyond what is currently known or known for certain. This ‘seeing’ should form part of the organisation’s core operational processes.
Secondly it is having the capacity and capability to respond to what is seen; to be able to take action. It is the development and maintenance of the dynamic capabilities that allow the reorganisation of resources to best meet a challenge or realise an opportunity.
The future is something else; whatever it is it will certainly deviate from what we take for granted. These futures will be more complex and difficult to read. Traditional techniques for understanding and planning are no longer sufficient to enable an organisation to reduce its fragility.
Our key enabler for greater organisational resilience is the building of anticipatory futures; anticipation occurs when the future is used in action in the present; seeing informing doing.
Building anticipatory futures increases both capacity and capability. It both makes explicit and utilises the implicit knowledge which exists in organisations. It draws on and values the input from as diverse a range of sources as possible.
We will work with you in a staged approach to build anticipatory futures:
Stage 1: Reflect
The set-up and an identification of the challenge. What is the nature of the future understanding that is required? Who should be best involved?
Starting with the macro ‘future of’; a topic or sector wide wide issue: the use of AI in education. What is AI? What will be the impact on adaptive learning, personalisation and learning styles? What is the potential of expert systems and intelligent tutoring systems? What are the implications for educational delivery processes? Will we be able to break through the space and time barriers to learning?
then apply it to the micro ‘future in’; how we explore our organisational, community or team future, make explicit choices between futures and prepare ourselves? Are we preparing for incremental innovation or setting up for architectural innovation-applying those technological advances that will fundamentally change the way we educate?
Working on ‘Futures of’ there are 6 activities:
- Collecting existing and official futures
- Learning about those futures that hadn’t been considered before
- Understanding the implications of all of the futures and selecting a preferred one
- Planning to prepare for the selected future
- Communicating about the selected future and how it will be enabled
- Assessing the effectiveness of our execution
then working on ‘Futures in’:
Stage 2: Rethink
- The completion of a diagnostic survey to create an understanding of the current organisational resilience reality. What are the levels of trust? What is the perception of any seeing and doing activity?
Stage 3: Reframe
- What do the responses to the diagnostic tell us. How strong is the relational trust? How well are we seeing and doing? Do the cultural conditions for success exist?
- Are we able to make sense of this information and change our perspectives on this new reality?
Stage 4: Refocus
- Addressing any cultural blockers and creating enablers
- Leveraging greater organisational resilience through the 6 activities to build anticipatory futures and their operationalisation within the organisation, community or team
Working with the future means being open and ready for surprises and being prepared to manage them.