Future Stand-Down Day

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Cindy Wagner

Cindy Wagner


Each year in the scrap-recycling industry, companies are encouraged to shut down operations for an hour during each shift to focus on safety. These Safety Stand-Down Days allow managers, equipment operators, and even office personnel to engage in training, sharing best practices, identifying hazards, reducing risks, and eliminating accidents, all in an effort to save lives.

Similarly, futurists have been engaging in discussions annually on March 1, Future Day (or World Futures Day, or similar nomenclature). While these conversations and activities are vital to promoting the field, there is also an opportunity to engage all organizations in a future-oriented mindset.

If you are not already planning to participate in one of the many organized Future Day events on March 1 (see below), consider calling a “stand-down” day for your own organization that day. Stop work for one hour and gather your team to discuss and brainstorm the future.

Suggested topics:

1. Dealing with wild cards
- What event of the past year has had the biggest impact on your organization’s future?
- How might your team have been able to spot trends that led to that event?
- How might the organization have been better prepared to handle the event’s impacts?
- What trends are emerging now that could lead to major impacts on your organization?

2. Backcasting a preferred future
- What one major goal does your organization hope to achieve in the next five years?
- What trends (internally or externally) suggest a positive outcome?
- What trends suggest (internally or externally) a negative outcome?
- How can your organization best prepare for alternative outcomes?

Whatever topic you focus on, engage everyone on the team. Just as developing a “safety culture” is a key to keeping manufacturing industries safe, organizations need a “future culture” to increase awareness of the impacts of today’s actions on tomorrow’s possibilities.

March 1 Future Day events:

  • The Millennium Project, Association of Professional Futurists, et al., host a 24-hour global conversation about the future, beginning at noon in New Zealand and continuing at noon in each time zone. The Zoom link will be posted here.
  • Teach the Future will conduct parallel conversations for “young voices” via Zoom in four time-zone slots. Learn more or sign in here. Teach the Future’s resource library offers tips for conducting your own Future Day activities and conversations.
  • Envisioning, a virtual research institute exploring emerging technology, is hosting several World Futures Day events on March 1 via Eventbrite, including Beyond Scenarios, Time Lab, Technology + Culture, Future Crimes, Vision 2024, and Decolonizing the Future.
  • The Participatory Futures Global Swarm (PFGS) will use World Futures Day to kick off 2021 with a new spin on its “Our Futures” Game—Metaphors. Learn more or join here.
  • World Futures Studies Federation and Human Futures magazine are sponsoring the "I, Human 2050" presentation of stories and suppositions about life in 2050. Guest speakers include Ralph Mercer, Hank Kune, Pouyan Bizeh, Jean Paul Pinto, and more. Register for the noon Eastern Time Zoom event here.

Cindy Wagner is consulting editor of AAI Foresight and editor of Foresight Signals. Contact her at CynthiaGWagner@gmail.com.

Article updated February 26, 2021.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay