Making futures that matter? Three things managers can do to make better futures, when working online

Jennifer Whyte, Alice Comi, Luigi Mosca

As video conferencing becomes more central to work in organisations, managers need to improve the quality of discussions to make futures that matter. Our research found doing so online is more difficult to organise and vulnerable to excluding relevant expertise.

The three things managers can do to help make better futures when working online are:

1. Be attentive to what’s missing and ask for feedback:

The people, places and things relevant to futures can go missing from (or not be invited into) online conversations, so managers need to very explicitly think about what feedback they need as they build futures

In the paper we call this ‘soliciting feedback’.

2. Consider multiple alternatives:

An online conversation can quickly focus in one possible future and not take the time to consider alternatives, so managers need to consider different options very explicitly.

In the paper we call this ‘juxtaposing alternatives’.

3. Use more than one representation:

All representations of the future are partial, so changing between different representations of the future is necessary to understand more about it.

In the paper we call this ‘changing medium’.

Without the three things that we identify, futures can be decided too quickly, without engaging relevant stakeholders, considering alternatives or (in domains that are now wholly in the computer) understanding how the ideas can be translated for use outside of the computer. 

The main source for this article is a paper we have recently published in Organization Theory:

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