In an Age of Populism and Pessimism, Can We Imagine a Beautiful Future?

Marc Mertens Chief Executive Officer

Now more than ever, we need to build a world—and businesses—we can believe in.

But how do we get there?

At A Hundred Years, we invite people and businesses to envision the future they want to see—to become, in Buckminster Fuller’s famous words, the architects of our future and not its victims. We start to do this by painting a picture of the past to gain a new understanding of what’s possible.

Using the 100-year lens, we leave people with a renewed sense of optimism, empowerment, and engagement to not only imagine a better future for themselves and their businesses but start bringing both to life today.

We saw this come to life recently at the House of Beautiful Business, a pop-up community designed as a counterpart to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. As a founding member and co-host of the inaugural event, A Hundred Years was excited to join a platform that brings the lens of humanity, beauty, and purpose into a conversation about technology that’s typically dominated by efficiency, economics, and artificial intelligence.

The theme of the event—beautiful business—dovetailed perfectly with our point of view as a studio:

In the long-run, what truly matters and what’s truly lasting is beauty.

We designed a workshop called The Future is Beautiful, where we took people back in time 100 years ago by sharing surprising historical facts about life in Barcelona in 1917. From there, we invited small groups to imagine life in 2117 through collaborative, “Yes, and”-style storytelling. The groups then shared their collective visions with others, and finally, shared ideas of how they might bring these visions to life.

Our intention?

To shift peoples’ perspectives to imagine what’s possible. The future we seek to create is not one we can predict but one we choose to imagine.

The remarkable thing about the whole evening was the evolution that took place among the group: In the beginning, when we asked people to describe a beautiful future, most people had a hard time imagining it. But by the time they left, their energy had completely shifted; people walked out smiling, physically engaged, and fired up.

Their ideas of life in 2117 hardly resembled our experience today; in the future invented at the workshop, people communicate telepathically, polyamory and gender fluidity are the norm, and we can access our ancestors through technology. In other words, the participants felt free to break boundaries and unleash their imaginations. Interestingly enough, the thread tying together most of the ideas was human connection. No matter how our bodies or methods of communication evolve, the group agreed that the thing defining humanity, that we can choose to control, is our relationship with ourselves and others.

The true power and impact of gaining clarity on what truly matters in the long-run is its influence on our mindset, and in turn, our actions.

This is what I consider the most exciting part of our work at A Hundred Years: Visioning, where we push aside the practical constraints of time, money, and reality to hone in on a 100-year vision. With our clients, we ground those blue-sky ideas in real-world business objectives that we can start implementing in the next 100 days.

So, while doom and gloom headlines dominate newspapers and robots replace human workers, our Future is Beautiful participants, reenergized by a morning of active imagination, respectful discussion, and thoughtful reflection, were busy making plans to build businesses, and a world, we believe in.

Interested in learning more about our Visioning process? Send us a note.

Projection mapping installation by Hand Coded.