To Arup last night, on the way home, to the 'book' launch of their Drivers of Change 2006. The word 'book' is in inverted commas there as this is actually a box of cards - somewhere between IDEO's interaction design Method Cards and the classic Oblique Strategies, but here containing rich, research-based information across numerous sectors refracted through the STEEP framework (Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental and Political factors. Wot no 'cultural'? Never mind.)
"What will our world be like in 2050? This set of cards identifies some of the leading drivers of change that affect our future. Each card depicts a single driver. A factoid and rhetorical question are on one face, backed up by a brief indication of the breadth and depth of the content on the other face. The set was devised by the Foresight & Innovation team at Arup, a group tasked with exploring emerging trends and how they impact upon business of Arup and its clients. The publication serves not only as a vibrant visual record of research, but also as a tool for discussion groups, personal prompts, for workshop events or as a 'thought for the week'."
I thoroughly commend this kind of highly enlightened 'open-sourcing' of research (I mentioned similar strategies, under the sub-heading 'Transparency and nurturing design', in a report for the DTI.) It's a more pragmatic version of their colleague OMA/AMO's output, perhaps.
Chatting to Duncan Wilson, of Arup's Foresight and Innovation team, they'd come up with the idea after running many research-based workshops, designing this card-set to kick-start such sessions, prompting discussion, providing tools for inspiration, as well as a distribution channel for these usefully provocative facts. (Maybe they should have released the cards individually, in order to create a Pokemon-style trading cult around them. Ah the possibilities ...)
Either way, they may prove very useful for anyone doing any kind of situated innovation work anywhere, and you can find out more at Arup's Drivers of Change 2006 site. Cheers to Duncan for the invite. A few snaps: