Savvy foresight clients always say to me that they need the "what for" in the work we do for them. They mean, they want insights and help figuring out what the future view we're helping them have means to what they have to do right now.
And they are exactly right. Without connections to our lives and work today, a view of the future is not much more than playing with ideas–fun, entertaining, but not helpful.
At the same time, it's essential to not let the focus on "what for" back you off from really exploring your future. Working on strategy without a true view into the future is downright dangerous. It is fire, ready, aim.
So what are you supposed to do? It's simple to recognize, but hard to execute. You need to build views of your future, for example ten years from now–2021–and then focus carefully on how things would change, and what you would need or want to do between now and that year.
You can work backwards or forwards doing this: tracing possible pathways from today to 2021 or working back in time from the 2021 outcomes to see how we might have gotten there, or working backwards and forwards in time.
Ultimately, with ideas about where things are headed, and what changes will or must begin to happen now, your strategic options and needs will show through. You will have connected a view of 2021 to things you need to do right now, and you will have made the future relevant to today and clearly connected to your actions now.
So to put it succinctly, any foresight activity should end with "now let's begin."
Image: adapted from Mike Licht, notionscapital.com, via Flickr, cc attribution license