WHY WORK WITH ME?

The scenarios have been a very important contribution to our strategic planning. We have enjoyed the association with Maree, whose work has been of a very high standard indeed and delivered, under pressure, in a timely manner.
— Professor Chris Cocklin, James Cook University

Some organisations prefer to use larger companies with more people on staff rather than an individual and that's perfectly fine. Let me outline briefly what I bring to an engagement with you.

First, the depth of my experience. I have worked since 1999 with people in nearly 60 organisations to help them use foresight in practice. I am recognised as a leading foresight practitioner globally and I was named as one of the world’s top six women futurists in 2016. I regularly publish and present on using foresight in practice and I bring a process to you that has been refined and made practical over those 16 years.

Second, I am a practitioner first and foremost. My mission with my business is to work with people to see foresight approaches used routinely in organisational strategy development. My work must create practical outcomes, and that happens by making the theory and methods real for the people I work with. My book is all about how to do this.

Third, I personalise my work - with me, you don’t get ‘one size fits all’. You get a personalised service, designed with you to achieve your outcomes, in your context, for your challenges. 

Fourth, and most importantly, I bring an overt people-centric approach to my work and this is where I add more value that other companies might provide. Helping people think in new ways about the future is what I do. Let me explain what that means a little more.

 

Process is important to a developing a successful strategy and I have a strong framework to frame my process design (Figure 1). What is as important as the process for me is the people in the room with me. We all hold images, hopes and fears about the future in our minds that shape how we make sense of the future, and that enable and constrain what we believe to be possible. It’s our unquestioned assumptions about the future that I help people surface and challenge through my processes so people can see the world in more expansive ways, interpreting what’s happening more critically and working more collaboratively to ensure their organisations are futures ready. A fundamental focus on helping people in the room face the future is as, if not more, important if we are to achieve strategic outcomes that create organisational capacity to become futures ready.

 

The need to shift mindsets to think in new ways about the future is not necessarily unique to Thinking Futures but there are not all that many of us in the field globally that have this overt combination of process and people at the core of what we do. The value my training and experience brings to you is in helping your people recognise their foresight agency – that they can use the future today and engage with it, not just observe it, to use it today instead of trying to predict it. Our actions and inaction today create our futures, and I help you base those actions on an integration of the past, present and future so you can be futures ready.

Maree was clearly expert ... she was open and honest in her dealings with us and provided excellent reference material and support to questions ... I admire Maree’s ability to distill data into manageable units and draw order from the chaos.
— Michelle Hayward, Kangan Institute
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how I Work

I work with individuals and small groups to help them create the capacity to have conversations about the future. These are strategic conversations - the four types of conversations need to become futures ready.

I'm selective about who I collaborate with, as you should be, and I don't do 'conventional' consulting. I'm not the expert consultant who comes in with a model or fixed methods that promise quick solutions and answers. I work with you to design a process that suits your context, the outcomes you need and helps you use your foresight agency.

There are no quick fixes when it comes to preparing for the future. If you think money will buy you the right answer or believe you don't have time to think about the future, you need to look for help elsewhere.

What I Do

I help people surface their individual foresight capacity, their ability to think about the future today and to collectively use the insights gained in ways that help their organisations become futures ready.

I help people explore and understand the value of an integral approach to thinking about the future that connects people with process rather than conventional, limited strategic planning processes.

I help people who are serious about spending time to recognise their futures agency, their ability to shape the future today in the face of complexity and uncertainty, and who recognise the need to think in terms of multiple pathways to the future.

A highly positive experience - it was a pleasure to work with a consultant who was always looking to value add what they had promised to deliver.
— Belinda Wright, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestries

What We Do Together

We use an integral frame for thinking about the future to make sure we pay attention to all parts of your organisation. We use foresight to focus atention on the future because that's the capacity to think in new ways about the future.

We focus on ways to increase individual and collective capacity to respond to change in ways that make organisations futures ready and not trapped in status-quo thinking. We find ways to increase futures agency and to identify viable and feasible organisational pathways to the future. Here's the conversation framework I use. You can find out more about the rationale behind this framework here.

 

Figure 1: Thinking Futures Strategy Development Framework

 

The Conversations We Can Have

Thinking Futures was flexible and adaptive in altering the scope of the work as we moved forward - this was very helpful.
— Project Manager, Making VU, Victoria University of Technology

I can work with you on one type of conversation or we can work on two, three or all of them. It depends on what you need most, and how much time you can devote to becoming futures ready.

Any collaboration we have is personalised for you and we can work together for as long or as short a time as you need. We can work on a project basis, or you can get in touch at any time if you need to have another conversation.

I work with you to design a conversation process as a learning experience for your context. There are many tools we can use depending on your needs - find out more about my futures toolbox.

Conversations with Self

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What do we do? Map your individual futures literacy.

Why? To develop your futures mindset - the capacity to use foresight to think about and use the future today.

How? Usually some form of regular interaction, coaching or mentoring, skills development or whatever you need, when you need it, tailored for your context and your issues.

This is a personal space - I can't read your mind and brain implants don't exist yet, so we talk about your issues and challenges now and how we can re-frame them to demonstrate the power of futures thinking.

Aim: Individuals aware of their futures agency and who are ready to use it collaboratively.

Conversations on Culture

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What do we do? Map your organisation's cultural futures agency.

Why? To better understand the degree of openness to the future that is embedded in your culture and identify enablers and constraints. 

How? Usually interviewing selected people across the organisation and offering all staff the opportunity to complete a survey to identify their beliefs about how open the organisation is to the future, and what enables and constrains that openness. 

Aim: Organisations that open to the future, facing the future and using the future to drive strategic decision making.

Conversations on Process

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What do we do? Map your organisation's futures readiness.

Why? To ensure your strategic processes start from the future, identifying your possible futures before taking action today. 

How?  Designing processes to create multiple views of possible futures using scenario thinking, and multiple pathways to the future using backcasting and options identifcation. This space brings individual and cultural agency together to co-create the future.

Aim: Organisations that have identified multiple pathways to the future, using them to be futures ready and able to adapt when change becomes real.

Conversations on Change

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What do we do? Map change shaping your organisation's future.

Why? To better make sense of the complexity and uncertainty of the external environment in which your organisation is operating and is seeking strategic fit.

How? Using environmental or horizon scanning, we create a map of your social environment to deepen your understanding of the range of factors shaping your organisation's future.

Aim: Organisations that are alert to change both here today and emerging and enabling conversations about change be be routine in strategy processes.

One of the issues for any organisation is always that of staff who may not wish to come along for the journey and ours is no different in this respect. All staff participated in the workshop. However their involvement in the scanning process was very patchy and perhaps did not work as well as hoped. Adjustments to the approach were made by Thinking Futures as a result which was great. A number of staff commented on the usefulness of the approach.
— Ellen Brackenreg, Western Sydney University

How We Work Together

I can work with you in two ways that are essentially organisational learning and development opportunities. The first is working with individuals; the second is working with small groups (around 5-10 people).

Our work has the following elements: first, talking together to find out your issues, your challenges, your ideas about the future. Then, we collaborate to design the best process to increase capacity and how to do that. We draw on an integral frame and foresight methods to do this. Whatever emerges is designed just for you and your context.

We work together in whatever way works for you. It might means face to face meetings, phone calls, prototyping ideas with you, doing a strategy project, reviewing reports ... whatever works. The toolbox to do this sort of work is big, so we personalise an approach that can be used when you need it in your work.

At the core of what we do will be rich conversations, learning from each other to create the capacity you need to be futures ready in your thinking and in your work.

Maree’s deep knowledge of the University sector and understanding of trends in libraries was particularly useful, including her contribution to the environmental scanning phase. Her facilitation of the process and final presentation of the report was professional and achieved a good outcome that I was looking for.
— Philip Kent, Swinburne University of Technology

Ready to Get in Touch?

Typical comments regarding your session were thought provoking, stimulating, and allowed for lateral thinking (especially in the workshop session).
— Feedback from organisers after ITPNZ Conference Keynote, 2005

If this sounds like it will help you work on some of your challenges today, fill out the form to find out more about how we can work together. Let me know how you want to work with me (individual/small group) and the type of conversation(s) you think will help you most.

You can send me a message about what you need to do or book a free Skype call so we can talk that way.  I look forward to hearing from you when you are ready. I'll reply within 24 hours.

 
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