Strategic foresight is the ability to think ahead by intuitively identifying and assessing a wide variety of possibilities and make judgments about will work out best over time (Cornish, 2005). The assumption would be that every organization would make the effort to develop forecasting tools and become proficient at strategic foresight (Canton, 2015). Unfortunately for a lot of organizations, this is not the case because there often exists a cultural mindset that resists forecasting because it is believed that predicting change is impossible (Canton, 2015). This mindset puts many organizations at risk of making costly mistakes, miss valuable opportunities, and possibly even find themselves obsolete and displaced from the market entirely.
Since strategic foresight deals with the uncertainty of change, it is difficult to accomplish (Wayland, 2015). However, despite the difficulty in accomplishing strategic foresight that is perfectly accurate, it is still worth developing within organizational culture and allowing to exist without restrictions on scope and possibilities. An organization that restricts strategic foresight run the risk of using what is known and creating viable projections forward in useful ways (Wayland, 2015). For instance, when digital movies were introduced and became available to the average consumer, organizations such as Blockbuster not only missed the opportunities, but they failed to adjust and ended up folding as a result.
Strategic foresight does come with risk, but it also comes with a high degree of reward for those who forecast effectively. To help manage risk and capitalize on opportunities, organizations need to focus on managing the uncertainly, become proficient at decision making in uncertain circumstances, and explore possible scenarios to develop strategies that are effective (Meijer, Smits, & Hekkert, 2006). This means strategic foresight is highly tactical, focusing on immediate threats and opportunities in order to form effective responses.
Canton, J. (2015). Future smart: managing the game-changing trends that will transform your world. Boston, MA: Da Capo Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.
Cornish, E. (2005). Futuring: the exploration of the future (1. paperback printing). Bethesda, Md: World Future Society.
Meijer, I., Smits, R., & Hekkert, M. P. (2006). Perceived uncertainties regarding socio-technological transformations: Towards a framework. International Journal of Foresight and Innovation Policy, 2(2). http://doi.org/10.1504/IJFIP.2006.009316
Wayland, R. (2015). Strategic foresight in a changing world. Foresight, 17(5), 444–459. http://doi.org/10.1108/FS-03-2015-0016