What Is Natural Foresight®?
Let’s state the obvious. One-size-fits-all templates do not solve the problems that exist in this VUCA world.
What is VUCA?
The military coined the term VUCA to describe the chaotic situations in modern war-torn landscapes. We discuss why strategies need to acknowledge VUCA to thrive in this post-normal world.
The world is constantly changing, at a rate faster than ever before.
It was always safe to say that the future is unknowable. But in today’s volatile environment, uncertainty becomes even more uncertain.
The issues that drive change do not exist in isolation. A political uprising has economic implications. A revolutionary technology leads to environmental impacts.
If uncertainty is when the variables are defined but their values are unknowable, then ambiguity is a state where even the variables are unknown.
At The Futures School, we embrace the VUCA environment.
We leverage a process that mimics natural growth curves
to take advantage of VUCA, rather than combat it.
We call this framework Natural Foresight®.
Strategic Foresight is the most critical leadership skill for the 21st century.
But the approaches that are out there fail to account for the VUCA environment.
Natural Foresight® goes beyond iterative steps. It employs an organic approach that mimics the powerful growth cycles found in nature.
It is this environment that led to the creation of a more holistic framework for thinking and acting on the future that we call Natural Foresight ® . Implementing this framework not only helps us leverage complexity as a foundational principle. But it also provides a practical and intuitive approach to futures literacy.
In addition to mirroring the complex systems around us, Natural Foresight® allows users to enter or exit the framework at an point depending on their present needs. Since the idea behind the framework is systemic, connected, and circular rather than linear, each phase can be iteratively refined by the next, as well as by the entirety of the process.
We must adopt a new approach of ‘pulling’ our organizations toward transformation.
Natural Foresight® is a competency for driving impact in the VUCA environment.
Three domains make up the Natural Foresight® competency.
The Behavioral domain
To drive value in an ever-changing world of increasing chaos, complexity and contradictions, we must adopt new ways of thinking.
- SENSING Mindset Trends in quantifiable technology, social algorithms, and big data are exploding, but it is those who hone the mindset of sense-making and pattern recognition who will truly be able to understand and leverage the world that is emerging around them.
- MESHING Mindset In this new era, we must “un-silo” disciplines and practices to foster the mergence of unique ideas and actions. This is the skill of intentionally creating the “spaces in-between.” The ability to explore the sweet spots between silos allows us to “dance with complexity.”
- TRANSFORMATION Mindset An increasingly complex world demands that we move beyond incremental innovation into transformational thinking and invention. The leaders of today must “embrace the unknown”– to have the ability to go beyond the familiar confines of the known universe, and explore the not-yet-imagined ideas.
It’s about moving away from short-term thinking to long-term vision.
Complexity is the seedbed of unlimited human creativity.
The Technical domain
Natural Foresight® is a proven framework for implementing futures thinking into the hearts and minds of key decision-makers. The framework is presented in four technical facets:
- Discover: Context and Background We must look past our present-day models and ideas in order to recognize disruptors on the horizon of business and society.
- Explore: Futures Intelligence When we scan the external environment, we create a glimpse into the future – much clearer than we could get from any crystal ball.
- Map: World Building Scenario development immerses people and organizations into future possibilities, allowing them to assess the validity, robustness, and future-readiness of their current strategies and to uncover new opportunities.
- Create: Action and Outcomes After developing informed maps of the future and pressure-testing strategies, sustainable foresight must become woven into the fabric of individuals and organizations.
The Impact domain
Strategic Foresight is a discipline, but it actually works best as a philosophy or operating system running in the background.
We lean on the mindsets and tools to drive our decision-making in the present.
Ultimately, we want to create the future we envision today.
- STRATEGY Strategic Foresight differs from strategic planning, which relies largely on spreadsheet-based models to extrapolate historical performance into a linear future plan. As landscapes change, so must our plans and approaches. Strategy must move beyond formal analysis and hard data. Natural Foresight helps us look outside of our industry, broaden our view of external issues, and develop robust, flexible, and creative visions of organizational direction.
- INNOVATION What if we could build proactive organizations that aren’t constantly in the act of chasing or being chased? Transcending disruption in an age of increasing complexity means we must change our organizational focus. When companies instill foresight into innovation, they see possibilities on the horizon and seize them today.
- CHANGE Creating an adaptive, resilient, and transformative organization does not mean simply staying informed about the latest trends or implementing the newest fads. Creating a culture of future thinkers will help every member of your organization to think holistically and be proactive about change.
- PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT Forget the “career ladder” or even the “lattice.” Career Foresight allows us to sketch out three or more divergent stories about possible futures over the next 10 years or more. The ability to chart a course to our aspirations regardless of obstacles allows us to recover from setbacks quickly, while taking advantage of new opportunities.