Crystal Ball Gazing: What is this futures thing all about?

futures1 - Copy.jpg
futures1 - Copy.jpg

Crystal Ball Gazing: What is this futures thing all about?

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The stereotypical response to thinking about the future is the crystal ball, and we all know how reliable they are as strategy development tools!

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Strategy is all about the future. It is about deciding on, and then mapping a path to a preferred future as well as preparing an organisation to deal with challenge of uncertainty inherent in the future.

This paper provides an overview of futures work, introduces core methods such as environmental scanning, emerging issues analysis and scenario planning, and discusses how futures can be used to strengthen strategy development and the underpinning strategic thinking in organisations.

It is because the future is so uncertain, and because crystal balls do not work, that strategy development needs to incorporate ways of preparing for uncertainty, rather than relying on extrapolating from the present to devise strategy. Futures approaches strengthen strategic thinking by building on our knowledge about the past and the present to develop wise, strong and sustainable strategy for the future.

Futures approaches eliminate crystal balls, and provide a systematic and information rich approach to enhance strategy development.

Futures approaches use a wide range of both quantitative and qualitative data and, most importantly, integrate working with people to interpret that data for a particular context as a critical element in strategy development.

Futures work involves strengthening strategic thinking and judgement about what factors might have an impact on an organisation in the future, and then thinking about how to respond to those factors. It is not about crystal ball gazing, and it is not about prediction, both of which hold little value in strategy development.