John Varney was invited by Logovisual to run a “Future Trends Wall” at the Workplace Trends conference in London. The conference attracted an international audience of around 200 people who enjoyed a series of expert presentations of the highest calibre. The idea of the future trends wall was for people to post insights from time to time through the day. This enabled us to generate an impression of the state of the collective subconscious to identify emergent future trends. Put another way we could say that the audience acted as an amplifier of weak signals from the future.
In systems thinking there is a quality called “emergence” which is a characteristic of the system as a whole, that is not present in any of the parts. This emergent quality is what we hoped the exercise would tune into.
The Future Trends Wall was a large whiteboard surface, actually a slick divider unit, which is a standard Logovisual product. Participants wrote ideas onto Magnotes (3” magnetic hexagons) and initially posted them at random. Later in the day clusters of related ideas began to form. We refined the clusters as the event came towards a close and epitomised each cluster’s contents; i.e. we summed up the whole of the contents in a headline statement. Using these statements we wove them into a story line. This short story, we suggest, signals an emergent quality of the conference.