Strategic Foresight is an organizational, social, and personal practice that allows us to create functional and operational views of alternative futures and possibilities. Through this process we are better prepared for potential threats and are able to capitalize on hidden opportunities. While no one can predict the future, foresight allows us to mine the external environment for trends and issues, and leverage those insights to create maps of the emerging landscape. These well-informed maps of the future allow us to test our current strategy, develop breakthrough innovations, and create transformative change.
Strategic Foresight, as a discipline, has been around for decades; you can receive a master’s degree in Strategic Foresight at universities in the United States. Major corporate companies have been leveraging the power of foresight for years. One famous example is the energy petrochemical giant Royal Dutch Shell. During the oil crisis of the late 1960s, Shell altered its strategy and successfully propelled itself to the top of the industry, a move credited to the use of scenario planning. Today, organizations like Intel, Ford, and Disney have joined Shell in employing futurists to leverage foresight tools for organization-wide strategy development and innovation.
Although Strategic Foresight is a discipline, it is most effective when utilized as a philosophy that runs in the background of an organization. It should not be an app, but rather an operating system that enables all other processes.