Imagining the future of corporations in a changing world: A project initiated by the Plurality University Network, in cooperation with Ingrid Kandelman (L’Onde Zéro) and Philippe Hagmann (Le travail redistribué)
In a future shaped by the effects of climate change, recurring crises, new technologies, and evolving social expectations, how could - or should - the very nature of corporations change, as well as their models and organizations? What long-term dynamics could transform corporations? And what role could corporations play towards transforming our societies, our economies, and our Planet?
There are all sorts of excellent foresight publications on the future of work, or the future of specific industries, but foresight is almost silent on the future of corporations. ‘The Emerging Enterprise’ intends to contribute in filling this void.
A Unique Approach
From 2020 to 2022, some 140 individuals from 40+ corporations, one trade union (CFDT) and one public agency (Anact), and seven researchers, imagined twelve fictional corporations of 2050, with the help of five speculative literature writers: Sophie Coiffier, Catherine Dufour, Li-Cam, Alex Nikolavitch, and Ketty Steward.
The method combined a few “classical” tools of foresight, with the use of imagination and fiction.
Together, we tried to imagine a diversity of corporations of the future, to understand how and why they could emerge. From this trip alternative futures, we brought back challenges, possible directions for actions, and issues that should be debated in our present. Within a few partner corporations, “landing workshops” allowed participants to reconnect this speculative work with each organization’s strategic challenges.
By publishing the results of this work, we intend to create a space for an open and creative discussion on the transformation of corporations.
The Emerging Enterprise in 2023
In late 2023 (in English; the publication in French will begin in June 2023), we will:
- Publish the 12 stories featuring our fictional corporations of 2050, enriched by the inputs of players and researchers
- Extract from the content a set of “Archetypes” of corporations of the future, that can be used as models or counter-models
- Organize open discussions on the insights, prospects and challenges open by this work
- Publish the project’s methodology so as allow it to be reused and improved
The Initial Experimentation (2020, 2021)
Between October 2020 and January 2021, the “Emerging organisation” pilot project brought together six major companies (the French Development Agency, Axa, La Poste, Maif, Michelin, Group Vyv), as well as other organizations (Anact, Cooperer pour Entreprendre – a network of freelancers networks) and individuals chosen for their skills. The objective was to explore the future of businesses in a changing world that is prone to repeated and complex crises.
The collective work was organized through four workshops:
- The first workshop identified the forces of change and the tensions that influence the ongoing and future transformation of companies. It also allowed participants to share artistic and fictional references that, in their view, spoke to the future of businesses ;
- During workshops 2 and 3, participants imagined three fictional enterprises of the future, with the help of three writers: Sophie Coiffier, Catherine Dufour and Ketty Steward;
- Workshop 4 identified the main lines of thought emerging from fictional production, and revisited the contributions of the approach, for both individuals and organizations.
Pilot project results
- Futures of Corporations: Trends, Forces of Change and Tensions (.pdf)
- Artistic and fictional “fragments” on the future of corporations and corporations of the future
- Three fictional corporations of the future: Results of the writing workshops (.pdf)
- Imagining the future of corporations: Summary of the collaborative work (.pdf)