For all forward-looking organizations it is becoming increasingly imperative to set up dedicated resources to project and imagine possible futures that can be experimented with and tested out to support better long-term strategic decisions.

Using design-thinking techniques, such as scenario-based thinking, it is possible to create situations and scenarios that help us understand possible futures by "visiting" them. We have created a tool that helps us explore the future. It teaches us how to use and democratize collective imagination. We call it the UBS Y Vision Cone. Using the Vision Cone we don't just try to predict the future, but to explore possible developments, scenarios and futurescapes. The aim is to present visions, scenes, complex descriptions of possible situations and then walk back in time to the present and experience a journey we call "reverse engineering of the future." It helps us trace the steps to walk toward those visions. But how can we know what the future will hold us if we can’t predict it? Sounds complicated, right? Don’t worry, here is how the Vision Cone works.

The illustration above shows a visual representation of how we look into the future with the Vision Cone. We divide the future into four segments. The dots in the illustration represent what-if scenarios – each one of them contains information on what could happen in a defined future. The dotted lines are paths connecting the different scenarios leading to different futures, which combine different scenarios. Scenarios close to the present are based on current needs and focus on problem solving. Scenarios in the distant future act as orientation points, what we call "possibilities space." These help us develop broader concepts and visions to inform our long-term strategy. The present is covered by the narrowest part of the cone, while the future to the far right is potentially infinite. This expansion of possibilities shows why it becomes increasingly difficult to predict the future the further one ventures beyond the present.

We use the Vision Cone to structure our work and apply different methodologies, design fiction being the most common. UBS Y works mostly in this possibility space using relativistic thinking. We believe that we can identify new business opportunities which might become crucial to the organization. Assessing what is plausible is not a precise science, but it is a useful exercise to anticipate potential challenges. We believe the future is not just a consequence of actions: our starting point is a vision of the future. UBS Y wants to shine a light on today's decisions by keeping the possibilities of the future firmly in mind at all times.