Redland City 2040: Futures Thinking and Strategy Transformation Workshop

Andrew Chesterman, CEO of Redland City, and twenty executives created their City’s futures with Dr Colin Russo, Managing Director, Engaging Futures, presenter of the workshop ‘Redland City 2040: Futures Thinking and Strategy Transformation’, on 3 December 2018. Dr Russo presented Futures Thinking methods from the UNESCO Chair of Futures Studies, Professor Sohail Inayatullah’s Six Pillars of Futures Thinking. The methods included shared history, futures triangle, emerging issues analysis and alternative scenarios. Additionally, the group worked with Dr Russo’s Unicity Futures method. The method was created following thinking from page 15 of the article “Mapping Planning and Engagement Systems Applied by Four Queensland City Futures Initiatives: How City Futures Tools and Methods Engage Across Multiple Contexts” (Russo, 2016).

CEO Andrew Chesterman – Clarifying Purpose and Shaping Futures

This workshop provided skills to shape the long-term futures of cities – map the future, anticipate emerging issues, understand long-term patterns of change, consequences of possible futures, and innovate and create new possibilities. The futures literacy and methods delivered in this workshop aimed to lead to new outcomes of preferred futures of Redland City.

The workshop responded to critical futures questions, including:

  • What are we doing to create and activate futures of Redlands Coast?

  • How will emerging challenges impact Redlands Coast?

  • What are the factors that impact our ability to apply ‘futures thinking’ to our businesses?

  • What is the Redlands Coast of the future?

  • How do we get there?

A summary of outcomes from the Redland City workshop is offered below.

Emerging Issues Analysis

A scan of emerging issues across multiple systems showed the following:

  • Social change globally and at all other levels, is driving changes in cities. Cities are doing their part to manage trends such as people from other cultures settling locally and needing to feel a sense of belonging. It is thought that this process can be aided by increasing awareness of diversity arrangements after considering and building special requirements for support, to help people live alongside one another and eventually to make important contributions to their communities.

  • With increasing populations, environmental change must include a focus on zero-waste disposal as the emerging problem of waste transfer is inefficient and could be better managed locally, through the management of product life-cycles, re-use or repair, and waste disposal. The issue for local governments is particularly about waste disposal though communities are starting up new repair stations that could re-enforce awareness about sustainable product development and use. This is timely as Australian shopping centres have already removed plastic shopping bags and the question remains – what else can be done in local governments to prevent waste?

  • Economic emerging issues includes a decreased manufacturing industry in Australia. While jobs trends clearly show jobs have moved from this sector, jobs have rapidly grown in the professional administration, community and health sectors. As the automation industries will cause further job transfers, it is thought that new roles will be found in technology and innovation industries and in tourism.

  • Technology emerging issues include disruptive artificial intelligence and other products and services reliant on stronger digital networks such as 5G. Smart futures are emerging such as systems that use personalised and public data and this could lead to a constant flow of valued information if managed securely and safely.

  • Transport emerging issues include the development of automated or upgraded fuel efficient renewable energy supplied vehicles. A range of issues coalesce here, including regulation, privacy, safety and how to manage roads to relieve congestion.

The Futures Triangle

The Futures Triangle (Inayatullah), helps to map out prevalent futures such as business as usual futures and preferred futures. It works with the “pull of the future” such as desired city images, the “weights of the past or present” that would hold back the preferred image because of a power shift or lack of knowledge or direction, and the “drivers” which push us toward our image of the future.

A summary of discussion from the Redland City group that applied The Futures Triangle, is offered below:

Social inclusion is the image of the future for community focussed Redland City. Redland as a fully integrated society offers equity of opportunity for residents and visitors. This future is challenged by ageing population demographics, immigration, the NDIS funding model and youth unemployment. Images of the future that prevent social inclusion are negative social media, a lack of choice in housing, lack of industrial variety in a narrow-based economy and conservative decision making reflecting short-term interests in the community.

Redland’s environmental pull of the future is toward a City that is green and clean, in terms of playing a role in the world and offering low scale urban bushland homes nearby a clean ocean of experiences, teaming with wildlife. Climate change advocates help to sustain this promise of clean clear waters, while legislation, awareness, technology and determination towards a waste minimalisation and zero disposal are the practices creating on the ground change.

Environmental weights in the city include industry development that takes little responsibility for effects of growth. Also, the financial cost of sustainability is high to restore damage and sustain ecology, while pollution is the risk to the City’s natural assets.

Redland’s economic images of the pull of the future for local government prioritise affordable living, economic diversity and sufficiency. These hopes pull the city toward an attractive bay style coastal lifestyle, with clean environment, bushland and village housing settings in a sub-tropical climate. Its urban setting brings health care facilities including aged care. Economic pushes drive the city toward affordable housing in attractive locations. Revenue sources from the State’s Capital City of Brisbane as a neighbouring city ensure constant interest in Redland City. Residents are attracted by development that occurs steadily in the City.

Redland’s economic weights that hold the City to its steady rate of growth include its outer lying proximity to Brisbane, and the accessibility provided by its transport networks – Redland’s futures are linked to its resources and accesses being focused on local area networks rather than regional connectivity.

Technology in Redland City in ten to twenty years will bring residents and visitors easy access to information and data that meet expectations. Drivers for better technology are the rate of change, new products and services, increased social information through technology and education. Education is being driven by knowledge about remote, personalised community needs, and the promise of better technology to come. Weights to this future include privacy, regulations, time and knowledge of how to innovate, financial constraints and security standards. Interoperability of technology is key to creating and procuring the right kinds of technologies and datasets to match the City’s emerging needs.

Transport pulls to the future, are about efficient and effective movement.

The City is pushed toward efficiency with growth of its population, concerns for safety and interests in connected lifestyles. Weights to efficacious transport movement include regulations and aims for the region and State.

Organisational Scenarios Method

Prior to the Unicity Method, scenarios were created using the Organisational Scenario Method, from five tables including the CEO and 20 strategy leaders working on social, economic, environmental, transport and technology futures. Each group created four preferred future scenarios, and the name of each scenario is included below:

  • Social Preferred Future: “Challenged youth, to youth challenging”

  • Environmental Preferred Future: “Our Environmental Investments are our Future”

  • Economic Preferred Future: “Quandamooka Heritage and Tourism”

  • Transport Preferred Future: “Blue is the new Black”

  • Technology Preferred Future: “Development of A Sandbox Environment”

The Unicity Method session was then used to clarify preferred futures generated from the Organisational Scenario Method.

The Unicity Futures Method

The following are some shifts in thinking that the Unicity Futures Method helps with. When I last used the Unicity Futures Method with the CEO of Deaf Services Queensland and deaf community members, it was with the awareness that the group wanted to explore their strengths, to make their current identity part of their preferred futures. This is one of the reasons I work with the method today. Here are other core reasons to use the Unicity Futures Method:

  1. When we are unclear about our worth, we trade-off instead of trading up. Instead of always going one step forward and one step backward, we should be enhancing, or making a better world. For example, in climate change, cities create renewable energy supplies, but increase use of fossil fuels, or increase populations so that consumption remains the same. An alternative example, is using solar directly from rooftops instead of fossil fuelled electricity supplies from the grid, to operate electric vehicles.

  2. When we forget what others are doing in other locations, we often reinvent the wheel, or lose valuable insights. We forget that the world we are heading into will have emerging possibilities and will not be the same way it is today, even across many core areas.

  3. When we don’t align our strengths and our strategies to focus our energies. We reject sustainability instead of making it a core principle of our plans and actions. Instead we spend more money on stand-alone actions to slow climate-change e.g. carbon sequestration / pollution filter machines, when other motors do not pollute the atmosphere. We often create projects without implementing actions that work with our visions.

  4. When we are slow to understand why existing strategies don’t work. We leave many strategies from other parties of the past, while we test new ones without learning from the past. We forget to deliver urgent time-saving projects while we focus on seemingly important actions. We try strategies from the past, but forget to generate appropriate new ones that give us more choice and adaptive agility.

  5. When we forget to improve and evolve strategies that work well currently, and end up with a business as usual strategy that fails us tomorrow.

Discussion from the Unicity Futures Method

Next, discussion follows headings of the Unicity Futures Method’s phases, as applied during the  Redland City 2040 workshop.

The Unique Trajectory Phase: Redland City is Unique for many reasons 

Redland City is near the Queensland State Capital of Brisbane with all of its institutions and facilities and connects “Minjerribah”, the traditional custodian’s name for the world class North Stradbroke Island. The Quandamooka people have inhabited the Island for more than 18,000 years, well before the arrival of Europeans in the late 1700’s. Redland was declared a Shire in 1949, and has emerged from its then population of 6,000 living within bushland to become a city of 155,000 who retain much of the bushland giving home to Australian wildlife. The City is protective of its Venman National Forest, Ramsar Wetlands and heritage listed sites.

Redland will strive to retain its unique identity into the future – There is a strong feeling that Redland Coast should not only retain its social, environmental and economic values into the future, but will strengthen these values. For example, it will become better connected, and create the conditions for sustainability with more diversity of wildlife and wildlife corridors. Connections to Stradbroke Island will also be diversified while deepening appreciation of Redland City’s cultural and wildlife heritage. 

The Universal Pase: Universally accepted norms for this “naturally wonderful” city

Redland Coast is regarded to be a community focussed city with tourism and business supported by policies and governance that supports equality and inclusion.

Redland City’s naturally wonderful branding showcases the City as a naturally community and heritage focussed city, working on its adaptive and innovative capacities through better access, preservation of its cultural vibrancy and sub-tropical feeling, promotion of natural wonders, but also by promoting itself as a leader of equality and inclusion. It will emphasise its self-sustaining capacities and its future focus, as it connects with cities in the region, including Brisbane City.

The Uniting Phase: What unites Redland City’s communities in engagements that deliver current and near-term plans?

Redland’s programs and practices unite stakeholders, residents and visitors with events and occurrences, environmental heritage and cultural depth of the mainland and beautiful North Stradbroke and nearby islands. Redland’s stakeholder and community engagement strategies build Redland’s identity and a sense of belonging which boosts community in all of its forms – communities of location, businesses and organisations, institutions, neighbouring and distant communities, and virtual communities.

A possible near-term strategy, is an alternative community ownership program that builds shareholders in the community. This strategy would also share responsibility and accountability with Redland’s communities, conveying pride in place, heritage and hopes for the future.

Social networks that contribute to the understanding of the City’s hopes would integrate community groups and help to engage them in future focused activities. These could include coastal and marine education, renewable energy practices, including awareness raising of the City’s possible interests in solar, wind and water driven renewable energy strategies. A further suggestion regarding community connection, is to employ locally, and this is suggested to reduce local traffic, while boosting local awareness and knowledge and commitment to strategies and project that would offer hope and support for Redland’s futures.

Uniting Redland’s people toward a preferred 2040 future – The group suggested that uniting community members would occur by investing in strategic marine opportunities, along with strategies to develop modern local jobs, better engagement with community and more transport linkages. The connection of social networks and community groups would support the City in raising awareness about futures that generate innovation hubs. Supportive infrastructure includes adapting toward the internet of things and 5G communication networks.

The Unaligned Phase: What would untie or disconnect the City’s unique and preferred futures?

Core strategies for avoiding the untying of the City’s plans include: avoiding too much debt via efficiency of financial expenditure, avoiding delays and disasters by maintaining resource infrastructure, avoiding litigation issues by adhering to legislation and developing policies that supports the City’s aims. The City can also avoid distractions and delays by interfacing with government departments and anticipating their drivers, developing supportive politics, and appropriate funding and budgets.

The Unicity Phase: Strategies that would realign issues to Vision, that would otherwise weaken the City’s preferred strategic focus

The long-term preferred future for Redland City should seek to strengthen alignment between government agencies that can help Redland Coast to focus its efforts on completing significant projects that leave a lasting legacy. A focus on innovative and significant outcomes will help Redland Coast to deliver its aims of promoting a “naturally wonderful” city, while protecting its strategic assets. The City will strengthen and promote strategic support among stakeholders and help groups to become self-directed and self-sustaining and supportive of its aims.

Part of the Unicity Phase is to realign unmet needs and strategies. Near-term strategies include scattered approaches all around the city – programs and practices linked to events and social, economic and environmental outcomes. These strategies would empower Redland’s youth, develop transport links on land and water, such as a fast ferry from Brisbane.

Redland Coast in Transformation: Dr Colin Russo, Presenter with Redland’s CEO and Executives

Future Strategies

Redland 2020-2040 strategies that emerged from the Unicity Method session are listed here.

  • Showcase the environment in Redland Coast

  • Strengthen transport links from Brisbane to Redland Bay and North Stradbroke Island

  • Creation of a Youth Council

  • Ocean, Air and Rail links to Brisbane Airport

  • Marine-tech/Envirotech to create sustainable, renewable energy

  • Quandamooka People’s heritage and tourism strategy

  • Engagement and better understanding of how the City’s work is delivered

  • Joined/combined approaches

  • Youth participating in social initiatives to imagine alternative futures

  • Privacy Act for new technology – quadcopters and dataflow

  • Fast ferry from Brisbane

  • Create Marine and Environmental Technology

  • Facilitate commerce to solve ferry and other engineering solutions

  • Demand responsive transport to access innovation and learning hubs

  • “Be Naturally Wonderful” by protecting and working equitably with the environment and its people

A summary of core Redland City 2020-2040 strategies that emerged from the Unicity Method session follow:

Links from Brisbane to Redland Bay and North Stradbroke Island Creation of a Youth Council Ocean, Air and Rail links to Brisbane Airport Marine-tech/Envirotech to create sustainable, renewable energy Quandamooka People’s heritage and tourism strategy.

A Futures Thinking workshop sets out principles of strategic futures thinking for lessons supporting discussions of context and broader analysis. This foundation includes sector changes, stage of development of a sector (size, protocols, capacities in a market and community), emerging issues and possible futures – assumptions of the rate of growth and other contexts presented for consideration when creating preferred futures. Then, alternative futures, and a preferred future are able to be created, defined and broadened in context and scope. This solid foundation was generated by Redland City’s CEO and strategy leaders, and was clarified by applying the strategic futures method The Unicity Method.

It is suggested that further futures methods be used to assist the City, especially Causal Layered Analysis, which can be workshopped to deepen the preferred futures.


  1. C. Russo. (2016). Mapping Planning and Engagement Systems Applied by Four Queensland City Futures Initiatives: How City Futures Tools and Methods Engagement Across Multiple Contexts. Journal of Futures Studies. December, 21(2): 1-20.