Frank Spencer


frank spencer

Principal/Partner at Kedge Futures / The Future School

Frank Spencer is a professional futurist, consultant, speaker and author, delivering presentations and workshops around the world.

He holds an MA in Strategic Foresight from Regent University, and is a founding partner at Kedge, a global foresight, innovation and strategic design firm.

For the past two decades, he has helped companies such asKraft, Mars, Marriott, Daimler and XPRIZE implement foresight into their strategy, innovation and organizational development practices, and he has also worked with academic institutions such as Duke University (where he created the first foresight program for Duke TIP) and Higher Colleges of Technology(Dubai’s largest public university, where his company has developed a professional foresight certification for the entire student population).

Kedge also led the effort to establish foresight as a leadership competency throughout The Walt Disney Company, training over 500 employees across 21 countries. Frank is also co- founder of The Futures School, a globally-recognized Strategic Foresight training and certification program with alumni spanning the Americas, Africa, Europe, Asia, Oceania and the Caribbean. His passion and mission is to democratize foresight around the world.

**Due to unforeseen circumstances, Frank Spencer was unable to present his workshop last year at PRIMER18. We are thrilled to host his workshop this year as part of PRIMER19.

Wicked Opportunities: Innovation Through Foresight

Contrary to popular belief, complexity is a sign of increasing maturity and a seedbed of human creativity. However, complexity is also shifting our foresight work from "knowledge of the future" to "nature of the future." A new perspective is needed for designers, innovators and strategists in the 21st Century.

Designers, innovators and strategists across the globe are all looking for a way to deal with the impact that complexity is having on the world in which we live - and rightly so. As complexity accelerates, we are experiencing unprecedented levels of change, and that change is radically altering the way that people learn, work and consume. However, our landscape of growing complexity is resulting in much more than increased volatility, uncertainty and disruption to the world around us. In reality, complexity is giving birth to a very different world than the one we now know - and a very different kind of future.

Despite our struggle to adapt to this new world of unfamiliar change, the acceleration of complexity is actually a sign of increasing maturity and researchers are proposing that complexity is the seedbed of unlimited human creativity. In other words, growing complexity affords us a greater landscape from which to create grand solutions and unseen opportunities. This generative idea flips our view of complexity from being a force that opposes progress to one that enables us to unearth creative solutions to seemingly insurmountable difficulties. Knowing how to harness and leverage complexity can lead us to new perspectives around our grand challenges, and help us to reach our “big hairy audacious goals.” Much like an ever-growing canvas, accelerating complexity is giving us more space on which to paint an unending series of unique masterpieces.

In this presentation, futurist and strategist Frank Spencer will explain the influence, trajectory and purpose of complexity, rightly reframing our intricate interconnections and emerging patterns as a sign of increasing maturity and shifting abundance for all of humanity. Further, he will illustrate the power of that pervasive complexity to shift our perspective as designers, innovators and strategists from epistemological uncertainty (“Our knowledge about the future is simply limited, and can be strengthened through research around trends and weak signals.”) to ontological unpredictability (“The nature of the future - the essence of its categories, realities and existence - is being redefined.”) Such a shift means that our traditional approach to both academic and professional foresight will need to be reframed, and practices such as Design Fiction and Speculative Design offer a foundation from which to build relevant skills and methodologies for 21st Century Futures Thinking.

Key Workshop Takeaways

  • Complexity is not our enemy, but rather a sign of increasing maturity

  • Complexity is reframing the way in which we must approach foresight and futures thinking

  • New tools and methodologies are needed that will aid in exploring new categories and realities in the future