It is often said that we live in a time when change is the only constant, which means that in order to stay relevant and competitive, it is no longer enough for individuals and organizations to be aware of what is happening today: we also need to anticipate what might happen tomorrow and further along in the future. The primary task of a futuring exercise is not to predict the future, but to reveal pictures of possible, plausible, probable, and preferable futures that would help you make informed decisions about what is to come. This means that we help you to develop future foresight by determining what might be (all the conceivable or possible futures), what could be (all the plausible futures), what is most likely to be (the most probable futures), and what would be preferred to be (the future of choice).
SLI follows a holistic and encompassing approach to future foresight which includes using scientific methodologies (typically combining qualitative and quantitative data) such as horizon scanning, data analysis, scenario building and strategy re-alignment. This is then used to to help decision-makers not be caught unawares by the future, but to take useful action in time. Ideally, this would mean taking action that would help affect your most preferable future from among the probable futures. In organizations, strategic foresight exercises is commonly undertaken to prepare for long-term decisions or to help cope with emerging challenges. By creating a variety of high quality forward views, strategic foresight enables organizations to apply emerging insights to its benefit.
Strategic Foresight: The creation of shared long-term visions to facilitate informed short-term decision-making processes.
Example Framework For Future Foresight Exercise:
SLI offers tailor-made foresight services to best suit the unique needs and circumstances of our clients. The following framework therefore serves only to present a general guideline to the process.
Stage 1: Planning the Process
The first step in the process is a meeting between SLI’s foresight specialists and key decision makers in the organization. During this session the organization’s futuring needs are discussed, and decisions are made about the structure and timeline of the future foresight exercise.
TIME: Approx 60 Minutes
Stage 2: Introduction & Orientation
This is a general introduction to the futuring process during which the basic concepts of futuring and the process that will be followed for this particular exercise is explained. All participants in the futuring exercise – which ideally includes management and key team members – should attend this session.
TIME: Approx 2 Hours
Stage 3: Organization Strategy
The client organization’s current Strategic Plan and/or specific strategic decisions are the focus of this session. The strategy paves the way for where the organization is heading and the general purpose of the foresight exercise will be to assess its future viability in the context of current changes and trends and forces of change in the internal and external environment.
TIME: Approx 1 Hour
Stage 4: Environmental Scan
Horizon scanning is a disciplined and constant process of quantitative and qualitative information collecting which provides a structured view of the organization’s internal and external environment. The initial environmental scan takes place over a period of several weeks before the actual futuring exercise. Current, new and emerging trends and issues are identified by scanning a variety of sources including news services, industry-related websites and internal sources. This will provide a pivotal view of trends, events and issues that might impact the organization’s future and its ability to execute its strategy or strategic decisions.
The actual scan is performed by individuals from the organization with the option of assistance from SLI’s team.
TIME: Approx 30 Minutes (before-scan orientation and explanation of process)
Stage 5: Futuring Exercise
The actual futuring exercise will typically be done over 2-3 days, but could also be performed in shorter sessions over a longer period of time. Information collected during the environmental scan will be analyzed; and its possible impact on the organization’s future be assessed. Several instruments and methods are used for this process; including scenario construction, future wheels; and an Impact Analysis.
TIME: Approx 2-3 Days
Stage 6: Action Planning
Action planning can be done as part of the Futuring Exercise, but could also be done separately. The purpose is to use the outcomes from the Futuring Exercise as framework to either adapt the organization’s Strategic Plan / decisions to be more congruent with possible future conditions, or/and set up a monitoring early-alert system for the organization. During this stage decisions are made about what should be monitored and/or reported and how the monitoring should be done (e.g. sources, measurements, reporting channels and frequency, data pooling, process of analyzes, designated individuals, problem tracking and reporting, escalation procedures, etc).
TIME: 2-4 Hours
Stage 7: Monitor & Report
Monitoring and reporting is an ongoing process where the decisions made during the previous stage are executed.
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