The Association of Professional Futurists next #futrchat will be held on Thursday, 21 July at 4:00-5:00pm ET, 9pm BST, Friday 6:00am Sydney. The topic is the future of design. A big one, but an important one when interpreted broadly. During 2010, a colleague - Elizabeth Rudd of FutureNous - and I did some work on a one day workshop exploring the intersections of design thinking and strategic foresight. That intersection is fundamentally based on the need to think differently, beyond the status quo, if we are to be able to develop responses to the challenges the future is bringing us - us as individuals, as organisations, and countries, and globally.

In this context, then the future of design is about the future of design thinking as it is applied in organisational strategy.

Two books, Change by Design by Tim Brown of Ideo, and The Design of Businessby Roger Martin, have influenced the cross-over of design thinking from design organisations into business.At it's simplest, design thinking is a way of thinking about current and future challenges facing organisations in an increasingly complex and uncertain operating environment - it's about exploring possibilities before making decisions, and being open to changing the way you think about what's possible.

Strategic foresight is a 'relatively' new approach to building strategy that focuses on creating a thinking space to explore what’s possible, before making strategic decisions. Without first questioning the value of just continuing with the business-as-usual and actively seeking to identify alternative future outcomes, strategy is usually superficial, formulaic and ineffective - and rapidly de-railed by changes in the external operating environment.

Both design thinking and strategic foresight approaches start by asking different questions: What is possible? Why do we do it that way? What would happen if we changed and did it differently? What do we really want? Why are we risk averse? What if…? These questions start by asking us to think differently. These questions take us first into divergent thinking spaces to test possibilities so we can then design a preferred organisational future.

Design thinking is also appearing in business school curricula, notably Rotman School of Business at The University of Toronto and d-studio at The Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia.

Many organisational leaders know we need to think differently to be able to understand and respond to the future today, and both design thinking and strategic foresight provide processes to help change the way we think about the future.

Join us to talk more about the future of design at #futrchat on 21 July.