Hot topics within foresight – Report on Foresight Track at the ISPIM Annual Conference 2012 (2/2) – The workshop

How can we better assess the quality and credibility of the increasing amounts of reports on trends and the future? How can weak signals be anticipated earlier in advance? What will it take to make organizations more capable of responding to new knowledge about the future? These were among the top five challenges identified through our “hot topic workshop” at the ISPIM Annual Conference.

Workshop results

The main product of our workshop was to identify the most important topics within foresight research and practice. The list was developed though brainstorming, rating and discussions in groups to secure the highest return from the expert knowledge of the participants. Then, another plenary rating and discussion fostered the final list (see figure below).

Hot topics of foresight research and practice

Five core topics

The five topics rated as highly relevant – meaning they had high ratings in terms of the expected future importance and low ratings in terms of how capable firms of today are at mastering the topics – were:

1) How to filter future knowledge. This relates to the difficulty of assessing the increasingly large amount of reports about trends and futures, and the challenges of evaluating the credibility of such reports.

2) How to assess weak signals. While the relevance of a weak signal can easily be determined in hindsight when the trend is in full force, it is very challenging to anticipate its potential relevance in the emergence phase.

3) How to create a sense of urgency. Firms are primarily focused on exploiting and optimizing their current business. When it comes to future developments the interest of (top) management is often very low. Thus, the ability to create a sense of urgency in the organization is key for corporate foresight to succeed.

4) How to create/influence the future. Corporate foresight methods are designed to enhance understandings about future developments, but are often not sufficient to trigger organizational responses. When the response includes convincing multiple stakeholders, getting to action is even more difficult.

5) How to link foresight to strategy and innovation. One way of ensuring that insights into the future trigger organizational responses is linking foresight to follow up processes such as strategy and innovation management. However, very few firms report to have successfully established such links.

Next opportunities

The road ahead for advancing corporate foresight research as well as practice may be indicated by the topics above.

Read more: To see our top 5 out of the 16 papers which were presented at the conference, read part one of the ISPIM report. For more on the workshop, including the three perspectives presented to kick-start the session (the policy foresight perspective, the practitioner’s perspective and the corporate foresight perspective), see the full conference report.

Do you want to join us? New participants in our special interest group are always welcome. To work with us you can select from a number of activities:

1) Discussing and sharing knowledge

2) Researching and publishing through two special issues

3) Networking


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