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Free labor for foresight

FYIYou almost certainly have friends and colleagues that are always sharing articles they found, web links, Youtube videos, and so on. They are natural born environmental scanners. You can use their hunger for information, their energy, and their generosity to make a difference in helping you catch up, keep up, and get ahead of what’s going on in the world.

Too often, people go to this trouble, and nothing much comes of it. They get no feedback, and may think no one appreciates what they are doing. But they are doing free work for you.  

What these instinctive scanners do may already be adequate, but you may be able to get even greater value from them. So you should encourage them. At least reply with "thanks," or, "you are absolutely right," or, "have you seen anything else on this?" 

Second, they may work a bit quickly, and not always add value to their discoveries. Urge them to do that, ask "what did you see here?" "How shall we think about this?" "How do you think we can find out more about this?" You can get them in the habit of adding meaning and value to what they find.

This can go a long way to improving your organization’s foresight. Seeing its value and the encouragement others are getting, others will join in. And it certainly is part of fostering a foresight culture. 

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  • Mike Mahaffie February 13, 2009, 11:16 am

    Good points. In my office, I describe this as intelligence-gathering. Also: thinking back to Grandma’s scrapbooks, I find myself wondering what she would have done with the web and social networking tools. I think she’d have loved this environment.

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