Strategic Foresight in an uncertain world
If you know you have to change, how do you figure out what the right changes could/should be? And then how do you implement them successfully? You know you need not just a Plan A, but also a Plan B and Plan C. How do you develop good ones? How do you know when it is time to switch from one plan to another?
We all practice foresight in our daily lives to take decisions. The practice of foresight is both a systemic approach to thinking about the future and a toolkit of different techniques to support your thinking. In an uncertain world, it is important to think and act according to the different scenarios and that’s the reason the practice of foresight is useful in many ways, with one can prepare for the future, navigating the uncertainty and take timely decision. It gives an opportunity to consider the potential future scenarios and to manage this investment risk through well-thought-out monitoring of emerging trends.
The practice of Strategic Foresight can be learned and it affects the behaviours of planning, goal-setting and decision-making.
Taking a simple example — You wouldn’t run a marathon without preparation and there is quite a bit of that which needs to be done well before the actual running of the marathon. You need to be physically fit and build up your stamina. You may need to adjust your thinking. You will need to investigate the course. You will need to have fall-back plans in case something goes wrong. This is strategic foresight.
Most people think that foresight is prediction, but that is NOT what I mean when I use the term. This is the most important thing to understand about the practice of Strategic Foresight.
Strategic Foresight is not fortune-telling. It is about thinking ahead so you can act ahead, it is preparing strategy so that you or your organisation can anticipate possible futures and remain viable not just today but also in the future. One could also call it ‘forethought’: thinking about and planning for the future.
It is a practice that engages the process of strategic thinking to develop strategies or plans for the future. This puts the decisions and choices you make in the context of broader goals.
Strategic Foresight tools enable you to discover which potential futures are possible and then to decide which one(s) you would prefer.
Strategic Foresight covers a set of tools and processes for gathering systematic information. One need to collate a set of emerging trends underlying recent developments in a range of different sectors, together with their interactions, and start to collectively make sense of them. The tools give you a mental structure or framework to work from. Then you develop a vision and a strategy (for the short- to medium-term) which enables leaders to make robust decisions bearing the emerging future in mind. Using the practice of Strategic Foresight builds and encourages joint action and implementation of those strategic directions and decisions.
In an uncertain world, its not recommended to take the major business/career/life decisions without doing proper analysis of the possible future scenarios and there strategic foresight can immensely help.Overall, strategic foresight is a mechanism to foresee the possible scenario of the futures and take appropriate decisions, frame strategy and vision.
We will discuss more about tools and techniques of strategic foresight in upcoming articles.