The New Volunteerism Project

The Archival Collection of
Ivan Henry Scheier


Section IV

Futuring

June 1999


The page #'s refer to the pages of the "New Volunteerism  Project: The Ivan Scheier Archival Collection."
Five bound volumes placed in the Reference collection of the
Dayton Memorial Library at Regis University
Table of Contents Page #
Introductory Notes
Part A Images of the Future    3-10
Part B Images of the Future, Sequence II 11-31
Part C Opportunity-Threat Analysis @ 32-46

Preparing for the Future @

Bracketing @

Future Factor Analysis @

Part D Visioning 47-64

Visioning: The Freedom to Dream @

Voluntas: The Residence at Madrid @

Voluntas Time Capsule @

StillPoint: A Philosophy @

Harmony @

@ -- permission for use-with-acknowledgment
-- Appropriate permission must be secured from the publisher for re-publication


Introductory Notes on Futuring
Ivan Scheier
June 1999

My interest here was relatively late in my career, pretty much the decade of the 1990's. I defined futuring as an attempt to forecast or anticipate trends and events which haven’t occurred yet. Usually, futuring also includes attempts to deflect or control these events in a desired direction.

The interest is futuring ties in with material in other sections of this collection. Futuring is surely one dimension of wonderment in philosophy. It is also germane to much of creative problem-solving and is certainly important in making dreams come true. On the “practical” side, it is difficult to see how one can do effective long-range planning without skills in futuring. (Sections I, III, V)

In general though, my experience was that human service professionals, and most other people, too, either pretty much ignored futuring or did it in an extremely naive and error-inviting way. Moreover, many of the groups and programs I was most interested in, did not have the funds to hire a professional futurist, even were they to see the need for this function. So once again, as with the Sections on checklist/ evaluation and creative problem-solving. I tried to encourage and empower the practitioner or any other person, to do-it-yourself. (Sections XV, III)

Part A – The first article in his section is therefore an attempt to familiarize non-specialists futuring with basic concepts, rationale, and cautions. The article is in the Spring, 1995 issue of The Journal of Volunteer Administration, entitled “Images of the Future” and marked “Part A” here. Included with the article are some 1998 updating comments, relatively minor, I think. And so, this material pretty well represents what I’d like to say to the do-it-yourself practitioner of futuring.

Part B – The second article describes what I believe is my most successful contribution to the methodology of futuring for non-specialists; called ”imaging.” This is in a Fall, 1995 issue of The Journal of Volunteer Administration, entitled “Images of the Future–Sequence II” with 1998-99 unpublished updates. This material is marked “Part B” here. Quoted below are my 1998 comments on this article, which continue to represent my current views.

“The core text here is “Images of the Future–Sequence II” in the fall issue of The Journal of Volunteer Administration, pages 3-21. Though several yeas old, this article still represents well, what seems to me my main contribution to the art of futuring for the do-it-yourself futurist; the “modeling” or “imaging” approach.”

“We see in this core article, a beginning of serious effort to relate the material to a wider audience than coordinators of volunteers–conforming to New Volunteerism’s wider perspective on significant actors in the community development drama.”

Arthritis permitting, I’ll give myself a pat on the back on the writing here. It seems to me a gallant attempt to communicate, clearly, and even interestingly, some concepts likely to be somewhat unfamiliar to our likely audience. Unfamiliar and perhaps difficult, too–at least they sometimes were for me, and typically I felt like I was operating at the outer borders of my understanding – or beyond – in the writing of this article. That and worried about what the farmer-philosopher (who?) Called it “spiritual trespass.” In any case, this article is not an easy read and is thus mainly for practitioners with a serious interest in learning more about futuring. Moreover, maybe you can help with this, but I for one don’t see how the presentation can be simplified much further without significantly sacrificing meaning.

The last two parts are included mainly for purposes of completeness in coverage of my work and for what others might make of them in future refinements. I certainly do not consider them at this point, substantial contributions to the art and science of futuring.

Part C – Opportunity-Threat Analysis – as noted in that section is a process that, for several reasons, hasn’t arrived yet, but might do so someday.

Opportunity-Threat Analysis
(Co-starring close relatives titled:)
Future Factor Analysis Best Leverage Response and Bracketing

‘Futuring’ is an attempt to anticipate what’ coming down the road, then respond in ways which maximize potential opportunities and minimize potential dangers in the predicted future.

Preparing for the Future

Opportunity-Threat Analysis

Main Steps

  1. Pick a relevant, significant "environmental factor," e.g. an outside influence "coming in on you" now or foreseeably.
  2. Draw both the positive and negative implications of this environmental factor on you as an individual, your program, organization, neighborhood, community, etc. (the potential benefits and threats).
  3. Pick a few implication scenarios, positive and/or negative, to which you see do-able responses on your part.
  4. Form action plans designed to implement positive scenarios and/or deter negative ones.
  5. Begin to implement these action plans.

As some indication of the epidemic confusion here, all four names above, concocted at different times, refer essentially to variations of a single process. Yet each variation has come aspects or emphases the others lack. Urgently needed here would be an integration of all four into a single strategy/method. As of now, my vote would be for "Opportunity-Threat Analysis" as the most descriptive title. But you are strongly advised to leave me out of the review process as completely as you can, unless, that is, you want a fifth version with another name.

Somewhat more seriously, I do feel that the core strategy, integrated and refined as above, has considerable promise.

Bracketing
The attached training handout on Bracketing relates especially to steps 2 and 4. There the ideal scenario is the best of the positive implications and the disaster scenario the worst of the negative ones. A third scenario in bracketing, usually somewhere in between disaster and paradise, is the most likely scenario and that would add a third possibility in step 2.

The bottom part of the bracketing handout relates to step 4 as several somewhat unconventional ways in which an actin plan can be implemented, although the option of doing nothing is better termed an inaction plan. It’s a longer story than you most likely want at this point, but doing nothing can be well defended as the best course, at least for a time, in quite a number of circumstances.

Future Factor Analysis

Part D – Visioning is considered a subsidiary part of this section on futuring because so many others have worked on it in greater depth and probably sophistication. It is far from original with me.

Visioning: The Freedom to Dream @
Voluntas: The Residence at Madrid @
Voluntas Time Capsule @
StillPoint: A Philosophy @
Harmony @

"We need imaginative inspiration to dream of what could be, and all the implications of what is now." Harriet Naylor

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Ivan Scheier
Stillpoint
607 Marr
Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, 87901
Tel (505) 894-1340
Email: ivan@zianet.com

For comments and editing suggestions please contact Mary Lou McNatt mlmcnatt@indra.com