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Making foresight a habit

Foresight and futures thinking tools should be a part of everyday strategy making in organizations. Making it so means pushing back against the dominance of urgent, immediate problems, and short-term thinking. What we need to do is open up a space for foresight, and make it habitual.

We will always battle the widespread conviction that what is relevant is the immediate scene; this quarter’s performance and today’s issues. Short-term thinking is a condition of organizational life, but if left alone, it can drive out habitual foresight.

Making foresight a daily habit of more people in more organizations is a new kind of work. It is different from just being provocative and wowing an audience with gee whiz ideas about startling new technologies. Here’s what we need to do instead:

  • Keep the future on the agenda, bring up trends and themes of change in work meetings and planning sessions
  • Change what people expect when you talk about the future from the gee whiz, to useful, actionable ideas about emerging challenges and opportunities
  • As you get a new insight on the future from your scanning, think about who the 5 or 6 people in your organization are who you know should see it. Send it along to them with a comment or interpretation. Any busy colleague will appreciate it
  • Show people how to think about change. Model this by giving people an image of the future that relates to a question they are grappling with. For example, in the packaging sector, you imagine for them a near term future in which every package has a radio-frequency ID tag on it for automated inventory and checkout.

You can look across the entries in this blog for other ideas too. The goal we are aiming for—of making foresight a habit, is central to building and benefiting from a foresight culture.

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