Innovation & Futures Ed.

Since 2015, we have taught on the Innovation and Future Thinking Summer Course at IED in Barcelona.

For the last two summers at IED in Barcelona, Changeist & Smithery have collaborated on a two-week Innovation & Future Thinking summer school class, taking a mixed group of masters-levels students through a whistle stop tour of a variety of strategic futures and design thinking methodologies.

Rather than a dry, formal, class-bound experience, we decided from the off that it should be more of a ‘gonzo-futures’ class – how do you put yourselves at the centre of this story, learning how to do things whilst you’re doing them. We load them up with techniques quickly, and get them out on the streets with their new found skills. We’re basically using the city as a laboratory, setting each group the task to develop a product or a service that will be in use in Barcelona five years in the future. The past two years have covered ‘The Future of Payments’, and ‘The Idea of Identity’, in response to both local and regional phenomena occurring at the time.


By bringing together two separate approaches (Strategic Futures from Changeist, and Strategic Design from Smithery), we create a course that switches students from moments of deeper contemplation and cognitive analysis and synthesis, to very immediately actionable tasks and activities, all within a very compressed timeframe.

We’ve also seen our tools and approaches form new hybrid approaches, with one foot in each world, which we then take away and use with other clients. One example is taking the Futures Cone (a long-established Strategic Futures tool) and creating ‘the Gonzo-Futures Merry-Go-Round’ game, which takes all the potential signals over a five year period, mashes them together, then gets teams to rapidly design an idea that would work in that particular future.

#IEDFuture 2016

Looking at all of these futures together than allows students to have a sense of all possibilities, and demonstrate what might come to exist.