Embrace the unknown with futures design

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Discover what the future holds in store for you by designing it today

Futures design is an approach that enables us to think about what could happen in the future based on what is happening today and what has happened in the past. It allows organizations to embrace uncertainty and leverage it to become better prepared for the unknown ahead of us.

If you have ever asked yourself these questions, futures design might be the answer you've been waiting for.

People have fantasized about the future for centuries. What if we could take it a step further and showed you how to turn these dreams into something specific and achievable?

  • What is the future of my industry?. We can be certain about one thing only — change. But what specifically is likely to change? What yet unknown habits will emerge and which of the known will give way to make space for something new?
  • How can we lead instead of follow?. It takes courage to be at the forefront of innovation instead of just following in the footsteps of trailblazers. How can we blaze that trail before anyone else even notices it exists?
  • What is the next great thing for us?. The future is a game of chance. How do we separate the opportunities from the noise? What should we bet on and how do we ensure we place these bets the right way?
  • Who is the customer of the future?. People change — as do trends. Your present customers may not be interested in what you have to offer in 10 years time, but that's just an opportunity to seize. How to timely capture the attention of those that will be?
  • Leaders establish the vision for the future and set the strategy for getting there.

    John P. Kotter

    Professor of Leadership, Emeritus, at the Harvard Business School

What's in it for you?

There are many futures. While none of them are set in stone, we can attempt to identify what is within — and outside — our control and plan accordingly.

  • Become the leading voice. Be first. Call the shots and make other players react to you rather than wait for their move.
  • Enhance resilience. Develop a strategy and culture that guard against future shocks. Utilise strategic foresight to anticipate and better prepare for change.
  • Anticipate demand. Make accurate decisions based on trends identified specifically for your industry. Provide solutions people want before they even realise they want it.
  • Build the right solutions. Ensure you’re building the right solutions for the right problems while managing associated risks.

USE: Our holistic approach to Futures Design

The proprietary USE framework created by Netguru ICON helps us navigate any challenge comprehensively, from understanding, through strategizing and all the way to execution.
  1. Understand. expectations, possible trends, signals and drivers of change in order to...
  2. Strategize. them into a variety of different futures, so that you can begin to…
  3. Execute. the one that seems the most promising to you and your business

Back to the Futures


Futures Design relies heavily on speculation to explore what would happen if certain conditions were met in the future.

It is an approach that enables us to think about what could happen in the future based on what is happening today and what has happened in the past. It allows organisations to embrace uncertainty and leverage it to become more prepared for the unknown ahead of us.

But, given that the future cannot be predicted with 100% accuracy, how does this discipline deal with the uncertainty ingrained in the subject matter? Read on to discover the answer.

Trends describe our future scenarios. They are an assumed development in the future that will have a long-term and lasting effect.

Trends leverage our basic human needs and wants in a way that aligns evolving human nature with breakthrough invention. They are a new manifestation of sustained change within society, an industrial sector or within human behaviour.

On their way to becoming well established and entering into the mainstream, trends are preceded by signals of change. They are the first indicator of change or a theme likely to become significant in the future. Their primary use case is challenging assumptions and exemplifying a more practical view of the desired future.

Signals of change are also most commonly used in scenario building, to encourage us to think about the many futures. They help us identify new opportunities that often live at the intersection of various industries; they are a reflection of our day to day lives; finally they inspire us to broaden our own understanding of what’s possibly to come.

Cone of plausibility

Why futures, and not just one future? It’s not only theory but also common sense that teaches us that the future is shaped by our actions. Different decisions in the same context will yield different results, which is incidentally what future thinkers attempt to map through Futures Design.

It is perhaps best illustrated by the Cone of Plausibility, first mentioned by Charles Taylor in 1988 Alternative World Scenarios for Strategic Planning. The cone extends on a timeline from today onwards; as it grows with time, its horizontal edges indicate limits of possibility within which sit many different futures.

The varieties of futures as seen in the Cone is as follows:

  • Probable future is what would happen if current events continued without intervention or unexpected influence.
  • Preferred future is there to remind us of the fact that we have a collective agency over how the future unfolds
  • Futures as indicated by Scenarios are what could happen if given circumstances (e.g. wide adoption of specific signals of change) occur.

Wild cards

Events that can influence any of the futures but for a variety of reasons are difficult or near impossible to predict based on today’s knowledge are called wild cards. There are at least three types of wild cards:

  • Black elephants — a term coined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, black swans are events or situations which are unpredictable, but have a major effect on people’s lives.
  • Pink flamingos — first used by Frank Hoffman, pink flamingo is a predictable event (so called inevitable surprise) that is ignored due to cognitive biases of the group in charge.
  • Grey rhinos — suggested by Michele Wucker, grey rhinos are a slowly emerging, obvious threat that is ignored or minimized by decision makers

While these events are impossible to map out in its entirety, Futures Design aims to uncover as many of them as possible so that business owners, leaders and policy makers are less fragile and prone to failure.

How can an agency help with innovation?

Developing new products or reimagining ways of delivering value can be an overwhelming experience. Where does one need to begin? How do you bring colleagues together to set on a new path? Will this new product idea become viable at all?

When doing new things, information can be scarce and stakeholders can be skeptical. When innovating, there might not be a lot to go on other than intuition. However, the sooner that gut-feel and instinct becomes grounded on facts and sound analysis, the better the chances of translating that novel idea into a ground-breaking product, a viable business.

Here at Netguru, we believe — and have proven — that innovation is a disciplined process, rather than accidental or arbitrary. Our Innovation Consultancy offers structured and methodical approaches to help you sharpen your take on innovation — be it a novel product, an advanced technology, a new process, a fresh business concept.

An innovation agency with deep experience will not only help you uncover data and insights, but walk you through battle-tested processes, frameworks, and methodologies. At Netguru, we’ve built the expertise to prototype ideas and stress test them so you can make the right call before you heavily invest in its full development or implementation.

There are plenty of tools in our innovation toolkit, but here are some that can get you started:

  • Discovery and generative research
  • Trends and competitor analysis
  • Product prototyping and testing
  • R&D sprints
  • Hackathons
  • Customer behavior analysis
  • Business model discovery and design
  • Product roadmap development

Stop waiting for the future to arrive, design it instead

Futures design consulting is not about predicting what's going to happen, but mapping the possibilities to be prepared, come what may.

Foresight creates value

  • 33% Higher Profitability: Companies with a dedicated Futures Design methodology and resources outperformed the average by a 33% higher profitability.
  • 200% Growth: Companies with a dedicated Futures Design methodology and resources outgrew their competitors 200%.
  • 25% Improvement: Companies say that strategic foresight improves business objectives and planning, helps define new markets, and builds flexible mindsets among executives, even in times of deep uncertainty.
Future Design Consulting Team

Schedule a call with a Futures Design expert

Get growth tips, that will make your business sky-rocket.


Jinder Kang

Innovation Consultancy Lead

Jinder has over two decades of experience spanning multiple industries and continents creating innovative strategic and design solutions.

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