Joe Tankersley


Futurist / Unique Visions

Joe Tankersley is a futurist, storyteller, and advocate for better tomorrows. For more than two decades he has used these skills to help organizations imagine and realize their best tomorrows.

During a twenty-year career at Walt Disney Imagineering, Joe had the opportunity to hone his creative and foresight skills working on projects ranging from entertainment to the future of work. He led creative teams on projects for Walt Disney World in Florida and the Disneyland Resort in California. He was also the lead show writer for the Epcot theme park at Walt Disney World for seven years. As part of Disney’s elite Blue-Sky Studio, Joe helped to create and lead the group's first Strategic Foresight Program. In that role, he created a series of innovative projects designed to explore possible futures for The Walt Disney Studios, Disney Parks and Resorts, The Disney Company's Corporate Citizenship Group, and Walt Disney World Operations.

Since the fall of 2014, Joe has applied the knowledge and skills gained by his years working for the world’s most successful entertainment company to help others “Imagineer their best futures.” His clients include multinational corporations, major nonprofits, and community organizations.

Joe is an active contributor to the professional foresight community. He served on the board of directors for the Association of Professional Futurists from 2010-2015 and organized international foresight gatherings in 2013 and 2015. He is also a longtime member of the World Future Society and helped found the Global Future Forum.

Reimagining Our Tomorrows: Collaborative Story Creation for Community Futures

fri. June 14 | 1:00 PM — 1:30 PM | ROOM A

Creating the future should be fun. It should be a process that expands people’s imaginations and helps to bring together diverse groups to find consensus around shared values and dreams of the possible.

For too many local communities facing the accelerated pace of change and disruption, thinking about the future is anything but fun. Formal institutions and citizens groups struggle to find new ways to develop bold visions for a future that is abundant, sustainable, and equitable.

Reimagining Our Tomorrows offers one approach to unleash the power of creative foresight. This collaborative story creation technique uses foresight, design fiction, and facilitated dialogue to create strategic narratives for diverse communities. The process promotes citizen-based futures building, inclusion, and critical imagination. Too often, traditional foresight asks stakeholders to adopt well-polished narratives created by outside experts. This approach robs them of agency. Giving citizens the opportunity, and the tools, to craft their own stories about the future restores their power and increases the likelihood of buy-in. Collaborative story building creates dialogue among diverse interests that can inspire and empower unity and positive change. Reimagining Our Tomorrows combines the best techniques of master storytellers with a rigorous approach to strategic foresight.

This presentation will take the audience through the process, step by step. Real world examples of its successful use, by rural communities, urban nonprofits and mid-sized city governments will also be shared. Audience members will leave the session with a deeper understanding of the power of speculative future stories and the importance of collaboration in creating community futures. For those who want to try using this process in their own work, the presentation will offer a project ready roadmap. Creating better tomorrows begins by changing the stories we tell about what kinds of futures are possible. Reimagining Our Tomorrows is a tool that can help communities create vibrant, positive tomorrows using the power of collaborative story creation.