Scanning Our Future:Growing super-resilience to thrive in the decades ahead




The present is already so intense and demanding that most of us don’t want to consider the future. But surely the rapid changes and pressures we face now are likely to continue, and increase?  Where is all this leading to? The overall aim of Scanning our Future is to identify and share ways that individuals, communities and public service providers in the UK can evolve super-resilience, a meta level of adaptation, over the next 10-15 years, to handle the likely future pressures positively.


Scanning our Future is currently a small project in startup mode, seeking to understand how it can contribute in a large, complex field. The founder and funder of SOF is Alan Heeks, a social entrepreneur and writer (see He is working in partnership with Schumacher Institute. Alan has been exploring resilience for many years: he has led personal development workshops and retreats on this theme, set up a woodland and retreat centre showing how to learn resilience from natural ecosystems (see, and founded Wisdom Tree, who support front-line service teams (


Initial research (our Phase 1) shows that there are many well-funded future forecasts available, and that the outlook is alarming in many ways. The aim of SOF is to focus on the ‘UK so what?’ of these future pressures. In particular, we want to explore the ‘evolutionary challenge’ of the troubles ahead. We believe that the gift in these problems is an invitation to evolve to a super level of resilience, so that people can adapt and thrive in high levels of disruption, challenge and complexity.

Given our limited resources, we want to focus on super-resilience for UK individuals and communities (up to city level), including work groups, especially those delivering key public services, and small business/social enterprises who can contribute to raising resilience, partly through innovation. We aim to evolve practical approaches to super-resilience by learning with our client groups. Wider propagation of this expertise is another key aim and challenge.


This plan covers the next few months, as information and contacts gathered in this phase will shape the plan thereafter. Key aims of Phase 2 are to clarify where this project can add something distinctive to the field, and to identify potential partners for Phase 3.


Task Who When
1.       Future threats review

A series of summaries on all main topics looking at major trends over next 20-30 years.

Palden Jenkins, a senior freelance researcher, has been working on this for several months. Complete late 2017.
2.       Sector scoping research

Who are the main UK and international organisations and individuals researching and teaching on resilience?

Recruitment underway for a researcher to do this work. October 2017 start, complete January 2018?
3.       Contact building

Making contact with organisations and key individuals who could be partners or advisors for SOF.

Alan Heeks and Ian Roderick. Sept 2017 – Jan 2018.
4.       Strategy review

Assess findings to date, set aims and work plan for Phase 3.

A 1-2 day gathering to include the work team, plus selected advsiors and potential partners. February 2018.


This will be guided by the findings and new contacts from Phase 2. We hope to collaborate with other organisations and individuals to create a collective process of research and dissemination, which shares best practices in super-resilience and identifies scope for future innovation.


These are some of the questions we might explore in Phase 3, hopefully as part of a collaborative partnership with a few other organisations.

(a) Scoping: Identify the major dimensions on which we may research super-resilience, for example:

  • Individual, community, work team
  • Physical/logistical, emotional, spiritual

(b) Best practice: Where are the best, practical examples of super-resilience? Some may be in exceptionally stressed societies, such as Palestine, Afghanistan, nomads or refugee camps.

(c) Gathering: What are the best ways to gather and share the best practices we find? Possibilities might include a Wiki website, video material, blogs, and interactive workshops.

(d)Innovation: Are there resilience needs which call for innovation to meet them? This could mean new social processes and structures, new individual skills, new services or technologies. If so, how can we encourage such innovations to happen?

(e) Dialogue: Our aim is to find leading-edge networks with whom we can work to develop super-resilience in practice, and to learn how it could be disseminated.

(f) Dissemination: Currently it’s clear that mainstream UK struggles with the present, and doesn’t want to know about the future. Exploring how to disseminate our outputs may have at least two channels:

(g) Early adopters: such as Transition Network, Network of Wellbeing.

(h) Grain stores: when mainstream individuals and communities decide they need more resilience knowhow, where would they turn? Can we place resources in these channels?



If you are interested in help, partnership, or staying informed, please contact Alan Heeks: or 07976 602787.

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