This blog is based on a survey we ran on foresight best practices. To no surprise, people on average are somewhat satisfied with the practices on foresight and futures work in their own organization. As in any many statistics, averages are not great indicators of... well, anything.
Based on the survey results, some of the respondents are quite unsatisfied, and, in turn, some are quite satisfied indeed with the practices, processes and tools used in their organization for the handling of futures-related information.
Which practices are seen valuable?
Broadly speaking, you might say the work on futures and foresight consists of three overlapping parts:
Sourcing and sharing of inputs (pieces of information, signals);
Enriching of and sense-making over all the inputs; and
Actually using the new information and insights in your daily work.
Our survey key questions were aligned with these three points of view. The three factors that we found to increase happiness with foresight work were:
1. Storing inputs in a centralized online repository
Based on the results, as it comes to sourcing and sharing of news pieces and other signals, one of the most important things is storing such inputs into a centralized online repository – such as FIBRES - instead of just sharing them between colleagues in a "streaming" manner.
2. Using a visual trend radar to summarize findings
In terms of sense-making of the inputs, using a visual trend radar over several trends is one of the things contributing to respondent satisfaction.
3. Using the insights in planning and decision-making
Actually and systematically using the new information and insights as part of e.g. strategic planning and decision-making, as well as an input to innovation efforts, is perhaps the single most important factor impacting the satisfaction of our respondents.
What about futures work practices in future?
With this survey, our goal was to identify some of the futures work and foresight activities that individuals feel are valuable for their organization.
People expect the foresight and future-related work in their own organization to be continuous, systematic, purpose-driven - and genuinely connected to real decision-making.
Today, and certainly more in the future, there are high expectations also related to automatically observing one's operating environment. Such expectations over automation are strongest in the field of data sourcing: intelligent tools can indeed source and filter valuable pieces of information at a staggering rate.
However collaboration between people - and even between entire organizations - over the sense-making and actual use of new insights is of crucial importance - and will continue to be so in the future as well, I think.