Skip to content
Home » RSM2517H – Futures Thinking: Developing Business Insight (Fall 2022)

RSM2517H – Futures Thinking: Developing Business Insight (Fall 2022)

General Information


Promotional Video

Applicable Emphases:
(m) = Main, (s)= Supplemental

  • Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Business Design (s)

Applicable Major(s):
(c) = Core, (r) = Recommended

  • Business Design (r)
  • Leadership and Change Management (r)

Instructor Bios

Susan LK Gorbet is a futurist, design strategist and educator who mentors organizations on integrating design and business thinking.  She works closely with leaders and teams to develop a customized, collaborative and futures-focused approach that guides strategic conversations to powerful results.  Most recently, she has developed a transformative program to bring design thinking, futures thinking, and facilitation to global customer engagements at a Fortune 50 company, and she has enabled teams on six continents.  Susan spent many years designing software in Silicon Valley where, after a short foray into graduate research at Stanford, she evangelized experience design at Oracle, Silicon Graphics, Excite@Home and Snapfish.  She holds a Master of Design in Strategic Foresight, and has taught at the Rotman School of Management, OCADU, Ryerson University, and the Canadian Film Centre.

Zan Chandler is the senior foresight analyst and design researcher with KerrSmith Design, and an instructor in OCAD University’s Master’s Program in Strategic Foresight and Innovation.  Zan has over 20 years of experience working in public policy and innovation, and she is a graduate of the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, and OCAD University.  Her background includes training in strategic foresight, innovation and policy development, which she combines with experience working with/in post-secondary education and cultural sectors, provincial and federal governments, as well as in management consulting. Zan’s approach to foresight work is grounded in empathy and justice, and underpinned by human-centred research, futures and systems thinking. Zan’s recent work includes futures research and workshop facilitation for Elections Canada, People for Education, the Cities of Vancouver and Calgary, Canada Council for the Arts, the Canadian Association of Science Centres, the Canadian Opera Company, and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. In January 2022, she was appointed to the Global Foresight Advisory Council for The Futures School and the Board of Directors for the Association of Professional Futurists.

Target Audience

Future business leaders who are interested in understanding how to think innovatively beyond solutions based on projections of past data, how to map uncertainty in order to make courageous decisions, and how to plan for a variety of possible future scenarios so they can manage projects and organizations in an increasingly VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex & ambiguous) world. Students interested in Business Design, Social Innovation and Strategy will find this course valuable.


12 Weekly Sessions — There is a final presentation in the last class session.  Reflection and team evaluation deliverables are due one week after Class 12.

Course Mission

Equip students with the tools and techniques to imagine multiple possible futures that can inform present decision-making and contribute to the design of robust and sustainable action plans. 

Course Scope

Students will learn the fundamentals, methods and application of Futures Thinking (when, why, and how it is practiced), and build an in-depth understanding about the practice of Futures Thinking in the context of business design, including real-world cases and in-class presentations by practitioners. After being introduced to the basic principles and process of Futures Thinking, students will engage in an applied, futures-focused project. This ‘transformative recommendations’ project will be facilitated through a series of hands-on exercises that provide students with several practical approaches for the application of Futures Thinking to business planning and innovation. 

Evaluation and Grade Distribution

ComponentDue DateWeight
Participation/Discussions (Individual)Ongoing10%
Mini-analysis x 3: Individual write-ups of team exercisesAfter Class 4, 6, 830%
Final Project Reporting & Presentation (Group)Class 1230%
Reflection (Individual)Ongoing & After Class 1220%
Team 360 EvaluationAfter Class 1210%

Required Resources

  • How to Future: Leading and Sense-making in an Age of Hyperchange – Scott Smith & Madeline Ashby
  • 4 Steps to the Future: A Quick and Clean Guide to Creating Foresight – Richard A. K. Lum

Last Updated: 2022-07-07 @ 11:16 am