strategic design & innovation

Collaborative Futurecasting in a Digital Marketplace

culture & capability shared value & ecosystems strategic foresight

To thrive in turbulent times requires innovation and agility, both of which demand collaboration. And one of the most significant barriers to collaboration within established organisations is that information and knowledge have long been hoarded as sources of personal power. 

This tendency to hoard information and to protect fiefdoms are practices that run contrary to the logic of newly pervasive networking technologies such as social media and open innovation platforms. Such technologies are challenging attitudes about the ownership and the sharing of information and intellectual property, worldviews that have underpinned our collective interactions for centuries.

The Guggenheim opened an innovative exhibition last month which allows visitors to understand how technology can shape our future, and you won't need to visit New York (or Bilbao) to experience and participate in it.

Åzone is an online exhibition space and marketplace. It is a futures market where, similar to open innovation environments, engagement and skill are privileged and transparency is rewarded. Participants who contribute the most valuable information are allocated more funds to invest.

On signing up and entering the Åzone site, you receive an allocation of coinswhich you can use to invest in 36 'futures' developed from the collective input of an array of futurecasting contributors including artists, architects, theorists and strategists. Examples include:

Information is the traded commodity, echoing the nature of the digital world, and the more valuable others find your information, the more coins you receive. It is the antithesis of the financial futures markets which privilege the well-off and well informed and incentivize the hoarding of information.

The project is designed to illustrate the effects of technology and to demonstrate the effects of the accelerating pace of technological change. The stated objective is to "test our collective capacity to transcend profit driven speculation and instead to determine collective values that drive the decisions about our future".

According to the curator, Troy Conrad Therrien, there is no set end date. "As Åzone relies on engaged participants, it's an experiment to see how long it can survive".

There are interesting parallels with running effective open innovation programs and perhaps some insights into mechanisms that can drive greater collaboration within organisations more generally.

In a world where the amount of technological change is overwhelming for any individual to be across, much less fully comprehend, collaboration is surely the only way to make sense of the possible futures.

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