Can you see into the future?

I just received an email asking: Can you use Net-Map for mapping out future networks or does it only work for existing ones?

My answer:

There are a number of ways how you can use Net-Map to develop a vision of your future network:

1. You could draw a Net-Map of the existing situation. That is a good thing to start with so that you have a fixed point to anchor the next step. Because whatever you do has to somehow start with a present situation. Then, after thinking about the current situation and how and why and where it could be improved, you draw (in different colors) the future links you would want to establish, add future actors you would like to add and set the influence towers up again (after noting the values of the present set-up).

2. You could set out just to draw an optimistic-realistic vision of the future network, for example: “This is the network we would like to achieve within the three years of our project.” This will be a very interesting document to revisit half way through and at the end of the project. You won’t necessarily achieve exactly the network you set out to achieve. But by comparing your vision with your achievements, you will learn a lot. Ask yourself how and why it went differently and what that means to you.

3. You could draw an optimistic and a pessimistic vision of the future network. This would be a really interesting exercise to do with a team (1. and 2. could also be done in a group), because it would help you clarify how different people in the team define success and failure in terms of network development, agree (maybe) on a common vision and discuss strategies to get there.

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