The Rise Of Sci-Fi Thinking In Business

By Mads Thomsen – Creative Director and Co-founder at KIRT x THOMSEN

Businesses are in a pursuit to employ new approaches to lift off their moonshots, and science fiction thinking is one of the most promising launch pads for them.

Sci-fi thinking serves as an idea catalyst but doesn’t stop there

Because of sci-fi’s track record of becoming science fact, vast tech organizations like Magna, SAP, Singularity University are employing sci-fi thinking to get big things done. As a part of this wave, corporations like Microsoft, Nike, and Boeing are hiring people with expertise in sci-fi to help dream up new products.

The thing is, sci-fi develops into a visionary aid for questioning reality and serves as the language of the future. Providing the ability to engage in mental time travel, it’s a particularly relevant tool to accelerate those innovations that would enable the reach of Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Creating a sustainable future calls for outlandish imagination, and sci-fi serves as a wellspring of inspiration for crafting big, compelling visions that respond to the implications of real-world actions. In the context of enterprises, it triggers active participation as well as opens up the mind to co-create fictional scenarios where the products could be tested decoupling from any constraints of reality like finance and technical capabilities.

Making people believe in unbelievable projects

As a creative director in design and innovation consultancy within the clean-tech industry, I am drawn to exploration and experimentation using design and visual language to visualize a new future for our clients. Adopting sci-fi thinking becomes an invaluable tool not only for creating moonshot ideas, but also finding the right angles to display why and how these ideas will work. In other words – how to communicate what’s not already there?

The Rise Of Sci-Fi Thinking In Business
The KNARR Airship Concept

Facing a problem of expensive and unsustainable wind turbine logistics, together with my co-worker, we were eager to imagine a solution which would challenge the conundrum. We had to think beyond limitations to shift the perspective towards cost-effective, greener transportation. This is how one of our most audacious projects – the KNARR Cargo Airship concept was born.

By employing design tools such as visual scenario planning, storyboarding and prototyping, we were able to experiment with different design features that could be tested far cheaper and mitigate unfavourable impacts before the solution would become real. Despite the fact that this concept was created 10 years ago, this idea is still highly relevant as food for thought in terms of speculating sustainable means of green transportation and rising “what if” conversations. Today, transport by airships is becoming reality with Siemens and Vestas taking lead for transporting wind turbine blades.

Sci-fi has the potential to change the culture of innovation

I believe there’s no better time to explore and experiment with new tools and approaches that would significantly change the way we innovate and harness the limitations of our vision. There is no way to accurately predict the future, we can only work to create one.

Mads moderated the Communicating Innovation track at CHARGE 2019