One of the most challenging things to convince people is the essential need to “look farther out.”
Most people are so focused on the very near term – looking no more than a year or a quarter out, that they never lift their gaze into the future. They feel that strategic foresight is:
- Nice to have but not relevant yet
- Dealing in probabilities and not certainties
- Diverting attention from a focus on the near term, which seems to be more “realistic” and
- Not essential.
When the world is torn with black swans like pandemics, riots, and racial strife, they feel that it’s almost impossible to use strategic foresight to envision the mid-future – when we can barely imagine even the near-future.
As I’ve said before – futurists are always right; they might get the timing wrong. Strategic foresight works, not because of its prediction or prognostication, but because it uses science to unveil all of the signals around us.
As William Gibson stated truthfully – the future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed – strategic foresight practitioners look through a multitude of signals from a massive number of sources to generate strategic foresight insights. These insights can then be directly applied to your strategy. In some cases, if the foresight reporting is insufficient, backcasting techniques can be used to pull together your route from here to the envisioned future.
Many foresight practices don’t spend time looking back to see if any of the work that they have done in the past has come to fruition: that is one of my main points of differentiation – if you can prove higher forecast accuracy, then would you not feel that the foresight is more useful? If I point to some of my 112 issued patents, many of the ideas I envisioned for my customers back ten-plus years ago are now either developed and launched or are in the process.
What price would you pay to have a window opened for you into the likely future?
- Relevance: Some of these black swan events – like the pandemic and unrest in the United States – were indicated in strategic foresight work.
- Probabilities: Can you compare the two? I think these recent disruptions have taught us that there is no such thing as certainties.
- Realistic: Despite perceptions that strategic foresight is on the spectrum between “guessing” and “astrology,” it is real science with proven tools and techniques.
- Essential: How can you possibly develop strategic plans without an eye to the future?
Every organization needs a Chief Futurist (or a Chief Foresight Officer) who can look further out and define those potential futures and help guide your firm to them.
- If you do not foresee the next significant disruption, how can you prepare for it?
- What if you knew that pandemics and unrest were on the horizon when the world rolled into 2020? What kinds of decisions would you have made differently?
- Would you have hired the way you did? Would you have invested the way you did?
- What would you have done had you known what 2020 held?
Adding Strategic Foresight to your strategy toolkit will better prepare you for the oncoming waves of disruption.
The choice is yours: do you want to peer into the future or not?