This post is an extract from my first book: Foresight Infused Strategy - A How-To Guide for Using Foresight in Practice (2016) and describes the start of my foresight journey.
We have to open up our worldviews beyond what we accept as real and true now, accept imagination as a valid source of information, and explore our possible futures more expansively and more deeply. Otherwise, the need for new perspectives, new thinking and new actions will remain out of our reach.
I really don't think that we can begin to use our foresight capacities to surface biases and assumptions in foresight processes until we have found and articulated our own, and know how we use them in different contexts.
The struggle to get foresight accepted begins with individuals, not organisations. With each of us understanding our worldviews that construct our thinking about what is real, how that reality has been constructed, our values, about what knowledge we think is true and what we think is false.
Our futures are not real yet, but we care deeply about them. Well, maybe there are different degrees of caring, but in her recent keynote address at the Dubai Futures Forum, Amy Webb reminded me that this is one of the reasons that draws people to Futures and Foresight work.
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A strategic foresight capacity is the outcome of the development and coalescence of individual foresight capacities. Here I see foresight as a neurological and cognitive capacity.
How can we ensure that extending our minds helps us find the new in the present? What processes can we design that pay as much homage to our emotions as we do for data, models and trend watching? How can we feel futures? How did your body react while reading this?
The reality is that there is no such thing as ‘the future’ that we can assume will emerge as planned. The reality is that there is always more than one future available us to in the present, but not all of them are visible to us - yet - because our thinking about futures is constrained.
It's not easy to define futures thinking and foresight because it seems to be the norm in this field to re-invent definitions on a regular basis.
Trends shape our present and the near future, what we don't know we don't know is probably already shaping our long term futures.
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Some characteristics of foresight thinkers to explore.
My PhD thesis explored how today's understanding of the Western university's possible futures is constrained by four contested ideas of the university - tacit cultural constructs that shape beliefs about the university's purpose and social legitimacy.
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Causal Layered Analysis lets us take a deep dive beneath the visible in our realities.