In a recent Forbes article, Industrial and Organizational Psychologist, Sesil Pir, toutes why foresight is a critical skill set for all 21st century leaders.

“We never experienced the volatility, ambiguity and complexity in managing all of our tasks. It is no secret we all struggle to find the capacity to meet different demands in our roles and have a growing need to be able to think and decide more holistically.”

We could not agree more with Pir’s statement. We need to adopt a more holistic mindset and planning methodologies that will serve us in a drastically different operating environment.

Utilizing solely linear and quant-heavy methods we are hitting a dead end, wearing blinders and missing opportunities. Foresight equips us with the ability to rewire our brains to see and strategically make sense of opportunities that will likely lie outside of our areas of expertise (as well as outside our comfort zones).

Specifically, Pri highlights two core tenants of foresight that she believes all leaders must embody: intuition and imagination. When we introduce foresight to those who are new to the field, we often provide a simple formula: Data + Intuition + Research + Creativity = Foresight. In other words, futures thinking is successful when quantitative and qualitative insights are combined.

The only way to map multiple pathways to the future is to move beyond one-dimensional data mining toward identifying patterns and emerging landscapes of change. Compelling foresight also includes the art of storytelling. Since the dawn of mankind, humans have connected to story so it only makes sense to use narratives as a vehicle to connect people to the future. But sterile stories of data that lack imagination do not inspire us to participate in change and will often get relegated to a dusty shelf.

We have the ability to co-create the future but only if we combine quantitative and qualitative techniques.  Foresight provides the framework for that integration.

Here are some powerful excerpts from Pri’s article:

“Unfortunately, foresight is often undermined as it gets labeled as a prophecy, but it is neither prophecy nor prediction. It does not aim to predict the future – to unveil it as if it were predetermined – rather, it helps us build it. It invites us to consider the future as something that we can create and/or shape, rather than as something already decided.

 

“In an organizational context, foresight is different than strategic thinking – it is more imaginative and innovative, considering a variety of futures. There is an action-orientation in foresight, which strategic thinking doesn’t require, along with creating participatory ownership and consideration of a variety of alternatives.”

 

“As globalization continues to take the world by its ears and digitalization of platforms, data management, and business processes increase, we will most definitely move from today’s generic, data-poor, and ungrounded theoretical and methodological approaches to a more balanced blend of science, empiricism and art.

Continue reading Pir’s full article here.

 

Nicole Baker Rosa
Head of Human Design 

Nicole is Head of Human Design for Kedge and an instructor at The Futures School. She holds a B.A. in Public Relations from the University of Florida and a M.A. in Interpersonal Communication from the University of Central Florida. Nicole is a published author with years of foresight and curriculum development experience. Read more.