Foresight (future studies)

Strategic foresight

Strategic foresight is a fairly recent attempt to differentiate "futurology" from "futures studies". It arises from the premise that:

  • The future is not predictable;
  • The future is not predetermined; and
  • Future outcomes can be influenced by our choices in the present (Amara (1981)).

Strategic foresight can also be practiced at three different levels:

  1. Pragmatic foresight - "Carrying out tomorrows' business better" (Hamel & Prahalad, 2004);
  2. Progressive foresight - "Going beyond conventional thinking and practices and reformulating processes, products, and services using quite different assumptions";
  3. Civilisational foresight - "Seeks to understand the aspects of the next civilisation - the one that lies beyond the current impasse, the prevailing hegemony of techno/industrial/capitalist interests" (Slaughter (2004) p .217).

Two approaches to futures studies that are especially focussed at those last two levels of strategic foresight are Critical futures and Integral futures

Strategic Foresight Group defines foresight as a combination of forecasting with insight. While forecasting requires methodologies, generated by computers or otherwise, insight requires deep understanding of the subject concerned. Foresight is developed by applying forecasting methodology to the insight. Strategic Foresight relates to foresight of strategic issues. Thus, strategic foresight can be developed by scientific study. It is not about intuition or guess work. The difference between strategic foresight and futurology is that strategic foresight provides alternative scenarios for the future. Futurology attempts to provide a definitive picture of the future.

Quotes

  • Strategic Foresight is the ability to create and maintain a high-quality, coherent and functional forward view, and to use the insights arising in useful organisational ways. For example to detect adverse conditions, guide policy, shape strategy, and to explore new markets, products and services. It represents a fusion of futures methods with those of strategic management (Slaughter (1999), p.287).
  • Take hold of your future or the future will take hold of you (Patrick Dixon Futurewise publ 2005)

See also

References

  • Amara, Roy (1981), The Futures Field. Futurist, February, April and June 1981.
  • Hamel, G., & Prahalad, C.K. (1994), Competing for the future. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
  • Johnson, G., Scholes, K., & Whittington, R. (2005). Exploring corporate strategy (7th ed.). New York: FT/Prentice Hall.
  • Rohrbeck, Rene & Gemuenden, H.G. (2008) Strategic Foresight in Multinational Companies: Building a Best-Practice Framework from Case Studies, R&D Management Conference 2008 "Emerging methods in R&D management": Ottawa, Canada.
  • Slaughter, Richard A. (1995), Futures for the Third Millennium. Prospect Media, St. Leonards, NSW, Australia.
  • Slaughter, Richard A. (2004), Futures Beyond Dystopia: Creating Social Foresight. RoutledgeFarmer, London, UK.

External links

Conferences

Case Studies

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