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What is future foresight

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Explores foresight or the strategic analysis process of looking at your operating environment and identifying trends that could affect you.

Future foresight involves thinking about likely changes in the external environment and how these trends could affect you. Foresight helps organisations navigate change by giving an early warning of obstacles and opportunities ahead.

Looking out

Whatever plans we make, the world around us will have an influence. Identifying how different things affect or might affect your organisation will help you to deal with change, make the most of opportunities and open up choices for the coming years.

Strategic analysis

This process of looking at your operating environment, strategic analysis,can be used to explore what is going on outside your organisation now, as well as what might happen in the future. It asks two questions:

  • How will what’s happening or likely to happen affect your organisation?
  • How should you respond?

It’s called strategic because it’s high level, about the longer term, and about your whole organisation.

It’s called analysis because it’s about breaking something that’s big and complex down into more understandable elements.

The focus is external because factors outside your organisation have a powerful influence on it.

Why do it

Some people argue that it’s pointless to try and predict the future. But spending time thinking about the key things that influence your organisation and the likely changes on the horizon, will help you stay prepared and able to make informed decisions. It is also a key element for building a strong organisational strategy.

Drivers, trends or forces

Strategic analysis of the external environment is all about understanding drivers - the major forces or trends that could (positively or negatively) shape or influence the future of your organisation.

Drivers have a complex relationship with each other, and some drivers are an outcome of other drivers. While some are reasonably predictable, others are uncertain, and their possible impact can be difficult to judge.

A good strategic analysis of the external environment should start by including a broad selection of drivers, then narrowing them down to a few of the most relevant or likely ones. You can do this for yourself by following these five key steps:

There are a range of tools and techniques to help organisations with strategic analysis. In fact, there's so much choice, it can be quite daunting to decide which ones to use, and when.

Future planning tools

There are a range of tools and techniques to help organisations with strategic thinking from cost benefit to SWOT analysis. There's so much choice, it can be quite daunting to decide which ones to use, and when.

Work your way through some of the most popular and effective tools for future planning to see which ones are right for you:

External environment

Work your way through some of the most popular and effective tools for external environment in this section to see which ones are right for you.

Internal environment and considering risk

Although the focus of strategic is external you may want to asses your internal environment and consider risk. Work through tools to assess the internal environment including:

  • Appreciative inquiry
  • Portfolio analysis
  • Capacity Assessment Grid

 

Page last edited Jul 25, 2017

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