Future Workshop

December 31, 2019 Jaskiran Gakhal, Participedia Team
May 2, 2019 Jaskiran Gakhal, Participedia Team
June 14, 2018 Lucy J Parry, Participedia Team
February 15, 2018 alexmengozzi
February 8, 2017 alexmengozzi

Future Workshops are small group deliberations which imagine future solutions to current problems. The process unfolds in three stages: critique (determination of the current problem), fantasize (solutions to the problem), and implementation.

Problems and Purpose

Future Workshops are underpinned by an emphasis on "critique, learning, team work, democracy, and empowerment" [1, p2], making them particularly suitable for use with oppressed and marginalised groups to develop solutions in their communities [1]

Future Workshops can be used as a method of participatory research. Its creative, participant-led format also has similarities with Open Space Technology and BarCamp. 

Origins and Development

Future Workshops were developed in the 1970s by Robert Jungk and are detailed in the book Future Workshops: How to Build Desirable Futures. Jungk, an journalist and writer, was inspired by "socialist principles related to democratic, participative, and collective decision making by critical citizens that will become emancipated individuals, becoming their own attorneys before the state" [1, p3].

These principles underpin the phases of the process, beginning with critique which helps expose the realities of the current problem/situation.

Participant Recruitment and Selection 

Future workshops may involve numerous participants but deliberations are usually confined to groups of no more than 20 individuals with at least one facilitator. 

How it Works: Process, Interaction, and Decision-Making

The small-group dialogue usually unfolds in three stages: critique (determination of the current problem), fantasize (solutions to the problem), and implementation.

The process outlined below has been taken from a description of Future Workshops by ProWork Project.

Critique phase

  1. Designed to draw out specific issues and problems in question/producing a critical understanding of the problem
  2. Steps:
  3. Collection of critique points (by written cards/brainstorming)
  4. Systematisation (clustering) on a pin board
  5. Evaluation, condensation, intensification, priorities

Fantasy phase

  1. Imaginative introduction (meditation, work, walks ...)
  2. Turn critique points into the opposite (bad to good) as starting points
  3. Collect ideas (brain writing)
  4. Preparing and performing a role play, fable, report, painting, fairytale to a fantastic story (as group work)
  5. A common analysis of these performances with regard to good solutions/ideas
  6. Extract, write down an “idea store” on a pin board

Implementation phase

  1. Evaluate the concepts of the “idea store” with regard to realistic conditions and best fit (PM-method)
  2. Put in more concrete terms, the best-suited concepts (group work)
  3. Choose the best one
  4. Build an action plan: Who does what, where, when and how?

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects 

Know what outcomes and effects this method typically has? Help us complete this section! 

Analysis and Lessons Learned 

Want to contribute an analysis of this method? Help us complete this section! 

See Also


Scenario Workshop 


[1] Vidal, R.V.V. (2005) The Future Workshop: Democratic Problem Solving [Technical Report], Denmark: Technological University of Denmark. Available at:

External Links

ProWork Project (2009) Future Workshop. Available at:  

Schuler, D. and Namioka, A. (1993) Participatory Design: Principles and Practice. New Jersey: Laurence Erhlbaum Associates. Available at: 

Future Workshops: How to Build Desirable Futures

Assessment of Future Workshop’s Usefulness as an Ergonomics Tool  

The Future Workshop: Democratic problem solving   

From Future Workshops to Envisioning Alternative Futures  

Future Workshop (2010) Usability Body of Knowledge. Available at