Pragmatic futurism for today’s designers

Part 2 of A Designer’s Guide To Foresight

(If you haven’t read it, we recommend starting with Part 1 of this series)

In part one we covered the challenges many design leaders face when they try to introduce foresight into large, complex design projects. It’s hard.

Nile has worked to streamline the foresight process, building a minimum viable approach for including futures research in our service design work. We’ve taken the intensive academic discipline and extracted the essential, lightweight, enabling practices of futures thinking.

We think of these as foundational foresight habits that help designers maintain a day to day literacy with futures.


Pragmatic futurism for today’s designers

Part 1 of A Designer’s Guide To Foresight

This is part 1. Read part 2 here

Full disclosure: being both a futurist and a service designer is harder than you might think. But as we hurtle towards a highly uncertain, post-pandemic future, it’s more important than ever to be both.

I believe it’s essential that design leaders and their teams are working with one eye on the future. I want to share — in a very practical way — what I’ve learned about incorporating foresight and service design practices into my work and leadership.

But foresight is a strange and alien practice to some. So rather than a…


Protecting culture during COVID-19

Three weeks ago, I wrote a memo to the Nile team titled “Business as Unusual”. In it I spoke about the two things that will get us through this; our mindset, and our toolset.

Kirsty Bell, Sarah Ronald and I use spaghetti to try to construct something which won’t fall apart. It’s allegorical. Photo: Jonty Fairless from the 2019 Nile team trip.

That memo has grown into something much, much bigger. It’s something which we are sharing with our clients, and it has formed the foundation of our service response to the crisis.

In the spirit of community mindedness, I want to share some of the key messages from that client deck here for everyone to read. I know many people will find it useful.

This first part is about the mindset that keeps distributed teams together.

First, let’s get the obvious out of the way.

Over the last few weeks, I think we’ve all learnt a couple of things:

Switching to ‘remote by default’ is hard.

Many of our clients and friends are switching to full-remote working…


Picking up on the signals for mental health in the workplace

It was mental health week last week. We tried something groundbreaking at Nile.

Inspired by Mental Health week, we set some time aside as a team to talk about our own mental health — living up to high expectations, managing stress, and the importance of a healthy workplace culture.

Like lots of teams, this isn’t something we do naturally, easily or regularly. In fact, it’s the first time we’ve done something like this as a proper collective exercise.

It’s been cathartic, refreshing and — truth be told — occasionally a little uncomfortable. …


About 6 months ago I stumbled across a great video that explains blockchain in 5 levels of complexity. This week, I was frantically rewatching it and trying to understand how the presenter broke down a complicated topic for kids.

My son is 8, and his year group are enthusiastically studying the “world of work”. Lucky them. The past year or two I’ve been on a mission to get my public speaking game together, so of course I said yes when I was asked to explain my job to 90 kids under the age of 10. …

Neil Collman

I’m a design leader, speaker and strategist who cares about making an impact for people and profit through insight and design.

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