In addition to students, each group had personnel or specialists to bring their own point of views to the conversation. Since the Future Professions Workshop was carried out in a hybrid model, the groups worked together partly in the same space with others joining online.
On Day 1, the participants were given themes to work on. The topics were based on the day’s keynote presentations regarding the studies of Tuija Arola, PhD., Development Director at Adult Education Taitaja Global Education Services, and Tero Villman, RDI Specialist and Futures Researcher. Each group had two topics to work on and they were asked to answer two simple questions in their presentation: What and why. To prepare for Workshop Day 2, the participants were also given homework to become acquainted with megatrends and Future Bank.
On Day 2, each group had to choose one of the Day 1 ideas to develop further. The groups had a few more added questions to answer, how and to whom, and were also given new problem solving methods to be considered. The Day 1 topics were:
- Continuous learning in a constantly evolving domain.
- Cars for other uses in addition to mobility: The transportation of people and goods from one place to another is only one use case; similarly to mobile phones, where calling was the first use case.
- New services: Understanding technology and new possibilities; Understanding and providing best solutions for customer needs; shifting from product sales to lifecycle services.
- Features of a top mechanic in motorsports.
- Motorsport is a forerunner in sustainability.
- Technological development brings possibilities and uncertainty.
Jan Kettula, RDI Specialist at Xamk, collected and presented the main outcomes, concerns and ideas from Day 1 group discussion. One of the main outcomes of Day 1 presentations was how artificial intelligence, sustainability, emissions and the need for services instead of owning affects the near future. Sustainability is and will be the main driver for the development in several areas: motorsport, electronic battery development and formula E. Motorsport aims for optimal performance and efficiency. In formula E, new customers, servicescape and collaboration opportunities contribute to new business models. Motorsports is the testing platform and the development lab for innovations. It provides new technologies, but also brings new skill requirements to the field.
On Day 1, the groups discussed how the themes of connectivity, data compilation, service opportunities and privacy could create a network of conflicting interests in the field. The groups considered the opportunities in developing public transportation and updating and upgrading the existing vehicle fleet. However, they also recognized the challenges in different areas such as competition versus standardisation.
Group discussions brought up worry for the local circumstances regarding geography, weather and the differences between societies and their effect on infrastructure and business. The impact in e-infrastructure was also a much-discussed topic. The networks, charging stations and distribution were considered both an opportunity and a challenge. The fruits of the presentations of Day 1 also included examples of innovations and designs in vehicle technology. In summary, the groups were pondering how to match existing education structures with the expanding need of constantly updating the skills and performance of individuals and teams.
Thinking About Future
The keynote speaker for Day 2 was RDI Specialist and Futures Researcher Tero Villman. The presentation aimed to provide some food for thought in regards of thinking about the future, and posed interesting questions about how and why we perceive the future as we do.
In our minds, the future can be discerned in very different ways. The keynote offered analogies on what do we see when we think about future. Future is often imagined as a post-apocalyptic view or a very futuristic city with shimmering, white buildings and space colonies. However, for example, the future could also be described as a highway, heading straight to a specific destination, or a forest path with many potential directions. It can also look like a jungle, requiring you to clear your own path, or a wide-open space filled with endless possibilities.
At the beginning of the 20th century, people had difficulties trying to foresee the future and had a wide range of imagines of what could be. The keynote presentation laid several examples of what our present day was thought to look like over a hundred years ago. The imagined aero-cab station shared some similarities to the present, especially since a year ago Volocopter, a pioneer in the Urban Air Mobility (UAM), successfully completed its first manned flight over Singapore’s Marina Bay.
The keynote provided several different models on how to map the alternative futures. The Futures Cone (Adapted from Voros 2003 and 2017) is a graphical representation that expands from the present into alternative futures. The future is not yet realized so everything beyond the present moment is a potential alternative future. The further we go in time, the more possibilities there are.
The Cone has plausible things, educated guesses based on current knowledge that could happen. There are current megatrends, probable things that are likely to be realized in the future. There are also projected things, the extrapolated “baseline” that is expected to become a reality as long as development continues on the same track. Beyond all this, there are also preposterous futures that are currently considered impossible. For example, in Christmas 2019, it might have been thought impossible that soon we would be in lockdown due to Covid-19. Among all of the alternative futures, we also have the preferred futures. These might not be something we have yet but instead are something we strive towards because they support our values. The preferred future is something we want to happen and think should happen. It might still be considered preposterous, though.
As another way to map the possibilities of the future, Zaidi’s Seven Foundations of World building includes different perspectives, which are then in turn divided into levels. The perspectives are social, political, economic, philosophical, environmental, scientific and technological, and artistic. Additionally, Zaidi’s model has different timescales and levels in all perspectives: Civilizational, societal, communal or organizational and individual.
There is all sorts of information available regarding the future. Megatrends are global changes that might even be considered unstoppable, such as digitalization. Sitra in Finland produces information of current megatrends. For example in 2020, these include the ageing and diversifying of the population and the embedding of technology into everything. These in turn lead to other trends such as change in work and consumption. Future Bank (Tulevaisuuspankki) is a crowdsourced look into tomorrow that collects the most impactful future trends. It is a web service that is maintained by the Finnish government. The material is discussed, reviewed, categorized and scored using the Radical Technology Inquirer (RTI) method before being added to the Future Bank. It is a great source for inspirational material.
The keynote presentation provided inspiration and ideas for the day’s group working but also for the private lives of the workshop attendees. The future is not predictable nor predetermined. Future is present today and lots of information regarding the future is already available to all of us. Future outcomes may be influenced by the choices we make today. Most importantly, the future is made, together: people must have innovative visions and want to better the society for all humanity.
Problem solving methods
Dr. Mikhail Nemilentsev from South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences (Xamk) presented different problem solving methods for inspiration and to give the working groups tips on how to best gather their thoughts.
The Golden Circle by Simon Sinek is a simple but powerful model. It has three concentric circles, why, how and what, that define different entities or stages of business and how the audience relates to the vision or the message. These layers represent the purpose, the process and the result.
The workshop attendees were encouraged to use Edward De Bono’s Six thinking hats methodology in the team working session of the day. Everyone in the team could wear the same hat or each person could have their own hat.
The white hat helps the group to think about how information can help the team tackle a particular issue. The red hat’s thought process includes intuition and emotions. It allows everyone to express their feelings without the need to offer a rational explanation. The yellow hat collects all the benefits and feasibility of an idea. It is the optimistic but logical hat. The black hat uses caution and criticism and assesses the risks of the idea. It is the hat of logic, critical judgement, and constructive criticism but never negativity. The green hat believes in creativity, new ideas and possibilities. The blue hat is the conductor of the orchestra and it has the control of the thinking process. Usually the chairperson or the arranger of the meeting wears the blue hat.
The presentation also touched the idea of the AHA moments of our lives by highlighting brilliant innovations such as WhatsApp and IKEA, and the people and their realizations and ideas behind them. This worked as a reminder to record your ideas. Innovations can be divided into different types such as product innovations, service innovations, process innovations and frugal innovations. The presentation helped the workshop attendees to look at their ideas from different perspectives.
Team working, part 2
The teams took their Workshop Day 2 ideas to very different directions. Some had a practical approach into services and technologies, and others focused more on developing methods. On Day 1, the groups were pondering how to match existing education structures with need of constantly updating the skills and performance of individuals and teams. One of the groups answered directly to this dilemma by diving deeper into what features a top mechanic must have in motor sports and what kind of curriculum would be needed to train one. Per the workshop’s theme, the presentation was future-oriented with attention to what special skills would a top mechanic need, such as welding modern materials, data-analysing, aerodynamics and software development.
Another group developed a concept of an autonomous taxi as a service, pondering its pros and cons. While it might not be technically a possibility yet, it is important to consider the impact of such service from different angles on both individuals and on society. The opportunities and challenges of an autonomous taxi service are multi-faceted, such as AI morals and the costs of this technology.
Two of the working groups focused on developing methods based on Day 1 ideas. From the topic of “Continuous learning is a constantly evolving domain”, one group gathered ideas based on the fact that the world is rapidly changing, and the people and institutions who exist must change with it. Their presentation focused on the change in systems as in educational institutions and companies, but also on people as in student and employees. With these two approaches, the group presented their solutions on how systems and people must evolve now in order to support continuous learning.
Another developing idea was to understand and provide the best solutions for customer needs. The group divided their approach to individual, societal, educational, cultural and business point of views and responded to each in terms of the main issues.
In each group, there was a student from Xamk, who will write a learning diary about both workshop days and the ideas and developed methods. These learning diaries and the team working presentations will be utilized in a publication that is to be published in January 2021 by Xamk. The publication will be based on the researches by Tuija Arola and Tero Villman, supplemented by the workshop groups’ presentations.
Day 2 concluded the Future Professions Workshop in Finland. The Russian partners of Race4Scale will have a similar workshop in the coming months. The basis of this workshop will be formed by the research made by Saint Petersburg Electrotechnical University and Union Autoprom North-West.
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