Introduction (author supplied) :
In this paper we propose future mapping, an alternative approach to futures research.
With future mapping we intend to overcome some of the main problems that we
encountered when applying scenario thinking in the area of product design and
innovation. Future mapping attempts to develop multi-layered maps of possible
futures, which can be used by pro-active companies and innovation teams as an
instrument to ‘navigate’ the future (Munnecke & Van der Lugt, 2006). The approach
invites designers to apply their analytical, creative and emphatical skills in a dialogue
about future opportunities that lay ahead.
In the past few years we have taught and applied the future mapping approach with
various groups of Master’s level engineering students, both in The Netherlands and
Denmark. We have altered and adjusted the approach as we learned from these
In this paper we will describe the current state of the approach. The paper is not meant
to provide a deep theoretical overview or a thorough empirical study. Rather it is
meant to provide a hands-on process description to inform about the method and to
enable anyone to apply future mapping.
After describing why we think future mapping is a promising direction for futures
research, we will provide a concise overview of the process steps involved. Then we
will describe one student project as a case example. We will discuss the various types
of future maps produced by the students. We will conclude by making some general
observations about using future mapping as a method for futures research, and by
proposing some directions for future work.