Provotyping: From the old normal to the new sublime

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How do you create a unifying future narrative for your organization? In an era of growing awareness around climate, biodiversity, inclusion, and new guidelines such as ESG, sustainability is transforming our society, Stefaan Vandist draws inspiration from groundbreaking examples at the intersection of science, technology, and creativity. His mission? Encouraging organizations to Provotype.
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Stefaan Vandist, affiliated with We Are Impact Collective, is writing his third book ‘Provotyping,’ which will be launched on Thursday,
June 13, in the Serre in Antwerp.

“Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember, involve me and I will learn.”
(Benjamin Franklin)

In this turbulent time where the restoration of our broken connection with nature, society, and ourselves is paramount, there is a glaring lack of necessary imagination. We experience that the current narrative no longer suffices to create a hopeful, let alone exciting, future. The world cries out for a new, grand story to believe in. Fortunately, the script for this story can emerge from the combination of countless large and small initiatives. Provotyping is both a call and a methodology to not settle for a supporting role but to claim the lead in a future-inspired narrative, making it tangible and visible in four steps.

#1. What if

The seed of everything lies in unfolding an attractive and unifying future vision. A provocative glimpse into the future is more powerful than figures and statistics. It puts our motives under the right tension and offers a guiding star. With a directional vision of the future, the narrative of your organization or initiative can gradually take shape.

#2. Coalition of the willing

You will soon need that future vision to cultivate an ‘alliance of the willing’ around it. Collaborate with people and organizations within and outside your sector who have a stake in realizing the same future vision. Regardless of the size of your organization, you cannot change the world alone. With a ‘coalition of the willing,’ you create your own power of change to rewrite the rules of the game.

#3. Provotyping

Liberate that beautiful future vision from the meeting room as soon as possible. So that people can truly experience it, we translate it into a visible and tangible ‘provocative prototype’: We gently challenge the existing and hold up the mirror to something new. Add some wonder to the experience, and magic happens: you open minds to innovation and ignite the creative spark.

People will get it once they see it.

#4. Celebration

In a communication universe where the future often gets trapped in scenarios of doom, dry reports, and technical terms, I advocate for a radically different approach: celebration. Celebrating new insights and breakthroughs thanks to Provotyping casts a radiant light on the path forward. As soon as there is something to celebrate, everyone gladly steps into the spotlight. Celebration resonates deeply in our hearts, so applause for everyone.

With this book, I address the rapidly growing group of impact professionals. People for whom work, innovation, education, technology, science, and entrepreneurship not only lead to profit but also to the growth of societal, social, ecological, and cultural capital.

In a process of Provotyping, I aim to pave the way with them. A path from the old normal to the new sublime.

“If we want to cool the planet, we must first warm the hearts of the people.”



In the messy and turbulent dynamics of change, forces manifest themselves that transform the world irreversibly: climate change, geopolitical changes, aging populations, the rise of exponential technology, … These are all autonomous developments that permeate and shape the fabric of our society. As individuals, it sometimes seems like an insurmountable task to comprehend, let alone steer, these cosmic currents.

In the first part of Provotyping, we explore seven superpowers that are within reach of everyone, ready to be deployed by impact professionals. Each of them forms the essential practical instruments in the toolbox of those who do not want to passively drift on the waves of this time but who want to actively navigate and shape it.

1 | Storytelling: With the power of storytelling, you help understand and change the world. Stories connect facts and emotions and are the key to understanding and engagement.

2 | Wonder: Opens the gates to new perspectives and creative possibilities, a breeding ground for innovation and renewal.

3 | Inspiration from nature: Timeless lessons lie in the rich palette of flora and fauna. Nature is an endless source of inspiration for sustainable change.

4 | New technology: Technology has always been a sort of self-portrait of civilization and the catalyst for progress. Never before has technology been within reach of so many people. You will find the tools to transform the world.

5 | Knowledge of new legislation: Acts as a map and compass in the complex landscape of regulations, allowing for operation within boundaries with room for positive impact.

6 | Creative collaboration: Recognition that the sum of diverse talents and perspectives is greater than the individual parts is a driving force behind collective innovation.

7 | Impact investment: Conscious investments and new ownership structures are levers for societal change where you can give social inclusion and ecological balance more space.

Stay tuned for the first power, ‘storytelling,’ which will be pre-published exclusively on this very website soon.