A Future Thinking Canvas


Our exponential pace is due in part to the overwhelming number of building blocks available to innovate. Understanding how these building blocks combine provides a glimpse into possible futures. In this visual, dots connect to portray the building blocks that are likely to extend our healthy lives – a key emerging future scenario.

A Future Thinking Canvas

A different type of canvas is required to iterate with this emerging future in a way that makes it actionable. The convergence occurring across the sciences, technology, economics, society, ethics, and politics is amplifying both speed and impact. Our future thinking canvas could look similar to this visual (with the societal factors sitting in the middle; as they do in the normal Visual). The canvas would include the holistic digital foundation, innovation accelerators in science and technology, societal factors, and a number of possible future scenarios. It would consider the ecosystems that likely form around these scenarios and allow us to evaluate our potential role. I believe this type of dot connecting in a future thinking context is critical to the analysis required to understand and create our future.

8 thoughts on “A Future Thinking Canvas

  1. Hey Frank – This is a great vision to think of some innovation ideas for the future; Thanks; IMHO each of these ideas must make through a comprehensive journey eventually to convert it into a sustainable revenue stream. It does not matter if an idea is embraced by an enterprise looking to innovate new business models and new business streams or it is a startup passionate to take it to a VC. Let us work together to monetize some; We call it Next Generation Enterprise.

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  2. The question is how far we are now able to determine our own fate with the technologies we have created. Our relationship to technology will determine the course of the next two decades with profound implications based on our choices.

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  3. If all of these building blocks are developing in silos, much like the internet, real innovation will not happen as quickly and efficiently as possible.

    We are finally realizing that everything (socio, political, economic institutions, our bodies, the universe) is governed by network effects. Theory of the firm and markets, the nature of risk, trust, belief systems, etc… are all impacted by the interplay we see between society as a whole and individual actors. Network effects simply put hold that value grows geometrically based on some algorithm around “n participants” while costs grow more or less uniformly and linearly; subject to forces like moore’s law. Value is captured at the core and top of the informational stack (as everything is driven by information, everything, even physical hardware, systems and processes, has an informational stack), while costs are borne at the bottom and edge, varying by marginal differences between endpoints. An inability to share the value at the core with the costs at the edge leads to significant imbalance and collapse.

    All ecosystems are related and we should be focusing on the interdependencies not only within networks (ie all the sets of actors and those who control the networks), but between networks. At present the winner takes all model of capitalism and notion of human evolution is at odds with network theory. Nowhere in nature do networks or networked ecosystems exhibit winner takes all; unlike the majority of our human institutions. In order to achieve the future canvas, we need to understand better network effects and what policies we need to establish to foster generativity and sustainability instead of siloes, ossification and growing divides of all sorts in our society.

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