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Thinking Ahead with the Advantage of Foresights Methodologies

Whether you call futurism a form of strategic foresights, scenario planning or predictive analysis, among other terms, the approach is a key part of business planning in today’s evolving environment. This includes understanding emerging trends, predicting customer needs, anticipating market shifts, and responding to technological advancements. There are several methodologies that can be used, such as horizon scanning and trend mapping, for example. Both qualitative and quantitative techniques can be used in the gathering of this data.

Seeing What’s Possible

Ultimately, these methodologies help aid the marketer to think differently about the future, and weigh and ponder potential future outcomes. And perhaps these tools can also help the team frame things from a different angle or perspective, giving rise to new ideas. While there is always a level of uncertainty about the future, these tools can help with predictions and estimations for the business moving forward. Here are the 6 P’s of Strategic Foresights, according to Foresight University:

  1. Past
  2. Present
  3. Probable
  4. Possible
  5. Preventable
  6. Preferable

There are multiple ways of undertaking a foresight analysis as you explore the what ifs and what could be ahead in your organization’s future. As the pace of change has become more rapid in today’s society, predicting the future has become more important. Selecting the type of methodology can depend on the scale of your specific needs, short- or long-term goals, and whether it’s qualitative or quantitative data you are seeking.

Some of the more successful strategic foresights methodologies, according to Futures Platform, include: war game simulations, which can include both military applications or competitive scenarios in a business context; roadmaps, which literally map out projected milestones or other technical or product goals; backcasting, which starts with a plausible future and works its way backwards to connect to the present; wild cards (low probability, high impact events) and weak signals (lower impact events) which refer to observation attempts to link small developments and phenomena to the potential occurrence of emerging issues or changes in current trends; trends analysis and emerging issues analysis; horizon scanning, the systematic gathering of information to detect early signs of potentially important developments; and scenario planning, which helps organizations anticipate change, prepare responses, and create robust strategies. Lastly, there is The Delphi Method, a structured and interactive forecasting activity that relies on a panel of experts.

Planning For The Plan

In an All Things Insights blog post, “Using Insights to Predict the Future,” we further examined predictive analytics. A key component of any marketing strategy is to think about and plan for the future. Despite constant macro and micro disruption, marketers can still prepare and be ready for the future and to take on any emerging trends and issues that may arise.

There will never be complete facts about the future, which is always a shifting and moving target. Rather, strategic foresights is a structured and systematic way to anticipate and better prepare for change. The goal is to identify possible opportunities or risks in order to inform strategic decision making.

Building a foresight culture focused on the future is a critical tool for today’s enterprises to compete. It takes collaboration and communication as well as thoughtful and organized planning. Whether you view it as visioning, strategic foresights, future studies, predictive modeling or any number of other terms, the insights team with their research and data analytical skills is at the forefront of this capacity.

Leveraging Foresights

Leveraging the power of foresights with these methodologies can support the insights team with their development efforts. We asked ChatGPT for a few tips in how to sharpen one’s vision of the future using foresight methodology.

  1. Start with the end in mind: Understand your team’s ultimate goal and use foresight methodologies to help inform how you can reach that goal.
  2. Set parameters for success: Define what success looks like before beginning a project so that everyone is on the same page throughout the process.
  3. Analyze data: Gather data from multiple sources and analyze it to gain an understanding of past trends, which will help inform predictions about future trends or needs.
  4. Encourage collaboration: Foster a collaborative environment within your innovation team by encouraging open dialogue and brainstorming sessions between members to generate creative solutions for challenges faced by the organization or industry as a whole.
  5. Be prepared for change: As technology advances and new trends arise, be ready to pivot quickly in order to stay ahead of competition and maintain relevance in the marketplace.
  6. Think creatively and outside-the-box: Use foresight methodologies as an opportunity to think outside traditional boundaries when presenting solutions – don’t be afraid to challenge assumptions or explore unconventional ideas.

Shaping the Future

What alternatives is your company facing in the future? How likely are the probabilities? What actions can the company take to achieve its goals and see success? These are only some of the questions to ask. The pace of change is increasing, be it cultural, industrial, or technological. Staying ahead of the game with insights has never been more important, and that’s where foresights methodologies can give the marketer an edge over the competition. Of course, these various methodologies only work if seen on a company-wide level as well. It’s important not only for the insights team but to gain overall company support is necessary to truly get the most out of these future planning tactics.

Video courtesy of SME Strategy Consulting


  • Matt Kramer

    Matthew Kramer is the Digital Editor for All Things Insights & All Things Innovation. He has over 20 years of experience working in publishing and media companies, on a variety of business-to-business publications, websites and trade shows.

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