Arup’s Foresight team explores an increasingly complex and ambiguous future. Our multidisciplinary team of futurists, designers and technical experts help our clients and partners to gain a long-term and insightful view of the future. They identify early signals of change, analysing the impact of major trends and explore future operating contexts. Using these rigorous methods, Foresight helps clients to make better decisions, manage opportunities and risks, and invest wisely. 

Foresight uses a broad range of strategic and critical tools, as well as creative techniques, to engage diverse stakeholders in meaningful, structured conversations and research about the future. The goal is to unlock meaningful insights about the future and identify opportunities for organisational and technological innovation.

How we can help you

Trend analysis and scenario planning

How can you better prepare for an uncertain future? We use evidence-based horizon scanning to help clients understand the major trends and emerging signals that will shape their operating context. By making futures tangible, we build challenging yet plausible scenarios that challenge business-as-usual approaches. The goal is to inform an organisation’s strategic decision-making and identify valuable opportunities for change.

Imagining the future of pandemics

Arup has worked with the World Health Organization (WHO) and key partners to explore what the future of infectious threats might look like.

Imagining the future of pandemics

Based on the COVID-19 pandemic, Arup’s Foresight team collaborated with WHO to develop a set of four plausible scenarios to illustrate the different directions both current and future pandemics and epidemics might take in the next three to five years.  

We developed a set of four plausible scenarios for the future of pandemics and epidemics in the next 3-5 years (2021-2026)

Using the morphological approach for scenario building, we analysed the key trends and factors shaping the future of the COVID-19 pandemic and other infectious threats. We developed four plausible scenarios which could inform strategic recommendations and define practical ways forward for improved pandemic preparedness.   

Scenario 1 is called “Happy Days”, in which we all benefit from widespread immunity and scientific progress happening at pace. At the other end there is Scenario 4 “Here comes trouble”, in which a double pandemic leads to the breakdown of global collaboration and a struggle for scalable solutions. Between the best- and worst-case scenarios, we imagine what would happen if COVID-19 became a permanent part of our lives (Scenario 2 “I Love You, I Hate You”) or became even more infectious (Scenario 3 “Heartbreak Hotel”).

Working with the WHO and more than 150 stakeholders with a wide range of backgrounds and expertise, we used the scenarios as a tool for strategic dialogue, and to develop a set of key recommendations and suitable actions for policy and decision makers. The ultimate aim was to improve the preparedness and management of both the ongoing pandemic and future infectious threats.

Visioning and road mapping 

How can you map a route to a better future? We use participatory ‘world-building’ techniques and speculative design to help you and your stakeholders articulate new futures for your organisation. Our methods challenge assumptions, inspire and provoke change and help you make informed decisions to achieve ambitious and transformative outcomes.

Futureproofing plans and strategies

How can you stress-test designs and decisions? We have created a unique evidence-led approach that incorporates practical foresight into planning, design, engineering projects and workflows. We work with you to understand your needs and then apply tangible insights from our tools that help you navigate disruption across increasingly uncertain and complex futures.

Future literacy

Teams and leaders need to gain the ability to consider the future – and the confidence to respond. We train your team in techniques that underpin this skill, and develop tools, assets and methods that will embed this capability in your organisation’s operations and culture.

Engagement and facilitation

Often the best decisions are reached only when everyone has participated and been heard. Our expert facilitators are experienced in managing and gathering insights and consensus from large and diverse groups of stakeholders. We use engaging and inclusive workshops and events to explore more robust, challenging and impactful ideas about the future – whether that relates to an organisation’s direction, new products, services or any other priority. 

Identify risks and opportunities 

What risks and opportunities are you not thinking about? We use our extensive trends and signals libraries, our understanding of change, creative and design-led research and our unique network of technical experts to help you identify emerging risks as well as future opportunities.