We come to the week in Alternative Perspectives class where we see how far one’s embrace of alternative extends. We call it visionary futures (aka visioning, visualization, imaginal visioning, creative imagery, intuition, etc.). We rely heavily on the work of our own Professor Emeritus Dr. Oliver Markley. He used to teach an entire 15-week course on visionary futures. He also does public workshops and has published extensively on the topic. His view of the core ideas:
- Rational/analytic methods for futures work need to be complemented by “imaginal” visioning methods that are based on higher intuition
- “Prophetic” foresight, involving a moral or wisdom component, is essential given the existential challenges ahead
In other words, in a practical sense, this approach is a useful complement to the prevalent empirical rational, measurement approaches dominant in organizations. And we need different approaches to solving the big problems/challenges of the future.
I think it is fair to say that it’s not for everybody, but this work is finally being recognized by professional futurists as valuable. But it is gaining some recognition. Oliver organized a series of articles for a special “Symposium” issue of the Journal of Futures Studies on intuition in futures work that won an APF Most Significant Futures Works Award this summer — in the “Advance the methodology and practice of foresight and futures studies” category.
It’s been helpful for me to distinguish between different types of intuition:
- Holistic hunch or “gut” feeling (memory influenced)
- Transcendental insight or vision (memory independent)
We’re aiming for the transcendental insight or vision, which admittedly is more challenging to access than our gut feeling. Developing or ability to access our transcendental vision is not easy. But it fits with the notion of foresight needing to up its game (if you will) on the left-hand side of Wilber’s Integral Matrix. Many years ago I wrote about how my scanning was imbalanced toward the right-hand side…relying on right-hand sources. It was really quite disturbing to me – when have those moments of cognitive dissonance. Something’s wrong here – that launched me into Integral Futures. And it opened me up to exploring new ways to access the left-hand side, thus my curiosity about intuition and visionary futures was now activated. I guess the point of my little story here is that one can come to this work when it makes sense. I had an opportunity to take the Visionary Futures course from Dr. Markley when I was a student in the program in 1988-1990. At that time, I was not ready, quite frankly. I’m kicking myself now, but to be honest I probably would not have gotten much out of it, because I was not open to it.
These days I have integrated some of these tools into my practice. I would say that I mostly use these tools only with clients with whom I’ve built a close relationship. Perhaps they’ve been of greater use to me in how I do my own work, that is more of how I build my own capabilities, than in directly working with clients. Andy Hines