I have seen the future

Janne Hänninen
Agency Leroy_99u_02

So, what does this future look like? Pretty uncertain, one could say. Yet, when some 1000 people gather at the Adobe 99u conference in New York, the atmosphere is everything but. During two days of talks, workshops and masterclasses, we hear creatives from all over the world talk about the future through a lens of creativity. Despite all the mess going on in the world, the recurring theme is optimism and we are soon told that the future is for us to envision and craft. No biggie.

As creatives, we often have front row seats at the frontier of change. We get to copilot companies with massive impact by shaping new directions. In a time of more and more creatives getting a seat at the table, we need to recognise our responsibility when it comes to creating a brighter future. Design is a great enabler of change, yet completely superficial unless delivered with good intent and based on a firm vision of something better (not just more profitable, that is).

So — what are our tools with which to create these amazing futures? Creativity, imagination, curiosity and intuition, if you were to ask Duncan Wardle who has some 25 years of experience from working for Disney. Those are all pretty gut-based tools. The trick is to have the guts to execute these sometimes abstract ideas; to be brave enough to give birth to unseen things. This need for bravery is also covered by Tim Brown of IDEO who boils it down to showing creative confidence. Leaping into the unknown (future) requires believing in your creative vision and being brave enough to speak up.

With a future that is human, we will need to turn up our empathy. "Empathy is useless unless implemented,” says Michael Ventura of Sub Rosa, a strong believer and expert in empathy. So, let's paint a picture of the future we want and chances are it will one day become true. As Brian Collins of Collins put it: "Futureproofing is impossible as the future will never be finished.” The future will seem completely ridiculous until it one day will be obvious. Looking back, this has happened multiple times before; science fiction turning into reality when we feed the imagination of the wide public.

With this increasingly human future, we see company after company focusing on refining their purpose and adding meaning to this brief time we get to spend on our planet. Vivienne Ming of Socos Labs defines purpose as "something that is longer than a lifetime.” She compares it to planting seeds from trees we will not even get to experience. With the horizon pushing further into the future, we might just manage to shift the focus from quarterly balance sheets to a more meaningful and responsible journey.

To sum it up we shall end with an encouraging statement by Ashley C. Ford. "Imagination is our superpower.” Now it is up to us to imagine a brighter future together and help our clients discover their purpose, shape their vision and realise their full potential. Suddenly, it feels a tad bit less of a utopia.

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