Foreseeing the future, whatever the name given to the endeavour, includes two major tasks.
The first one is, of course, the analysis, the process according to which the foresight, forecast, warning, or, more broadly, anticipation is obtained.
The second one is less obvious, or rather so evident that it may be overlooked. It is, however, no less vital than analysis. We need to deliver the output of the analytical process to those who need the foresight, the decision-makers or policy-makers. Ideally, the recipients must understand that output, because they will act on it. They need to integrate the new knowledge received in the decisions they will take.*
A huge challenge runs across these tasks: biases.
We must overcome the various natural and constructed biases – systematic mental errors – that limit human understanding. This article will present first the classical way we deal with biases: we consider them – quite rightly – as “enemies” and we devote much effort to mitigate them. Then, considering the specificity of the delivery stage, this article suggests that another strategy is necessary. We need to turn our usual strategy on its head and befriend biases. In that case, scenarios become a tool of choice for an enhanced delivery of our foresight to decision-makers.
(Rewritten and revised edition) Horizon scanning and monitoring for warning are part of the family of activities used to foresee the future, anticipate uncertainty and manage risks. Their practice is crucial for successful strategic foresight and warning, risk management, futurism or any anticipatory activity. While monitoring is a generic and common term used for many […]
Risk management is codified by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). It is aimed at any organisation concerned with risk, be it public or private (Sandrine Tranchard, “The new ISO 31000 keeps risk management simple“, ISO News, 15 Feb 2018). Its forebear is actuarial science, i.e. methodologies to assess risk in insurance and finance (e.g. […]
From the corporate world to governments, we seek to escape uncertainty and surprises. This is crucial to survive and thrive. It is also necessary for the protection from threats, dangers and risks. As a whole and generally, our abilities – if not willingness – to identify threats has improved with experience and practice. Notably, we became relatively efficient in […]
Each week, our scan collects weak – and less weak – signals, which point to new, emerging, escalating or stabilising problems. As a result, they indicate how trends or dynamics evolve. Here, we focus on signals that could favourably or unfavourably impact private and public actors in international security. That field is broadly known under various […]
Strategic Foresight and Warning (SF&W) is at once process and analysis. By SF&W analysis we mean all methodologies and related issues allowing for the development of an understanding grounded in reality that will generate best anticipatory products, useful to decision-makers and policy-makers for carrying out their mission (to find your way within the myriad of labels […]
Strategic foresight and warning or more broadly anticipation is a step by step process to anticipate the future in an actionable way. The graphic ideal type process displayed below is the result of more than a decade of work with and about systems of anticipation, from early warning systems to prevent conflicts for aid agencies to […]
(This article is a fully updated version of the original article published in November 2011 under the title “Creating a Foresight and Warning Model: Mapping a Dynamic Network (I)”). Mapping risk and uncertainty is the second step of a proper process to correctly anticipate and manage risks and uncertainties. This stage starts with building a model, which, once completed, will describe and explain the issue or question at hand, while allowing for anticipation or foresight. In other words, with the end of the first step, you have selected a risk, an uncertainty, or a series of risks and uncertainties, or an issue of concern, with its proper time frame and scope, for example, what are the risks and uncertainties to […]
[Fully rewritten version v3] To exist, risk and foresight products as well as warnings must be delivered to those who must act upon them, the customers, clients or users. These anticipation analyses must also be actionable, which means that they need to include the right information necessary to see action taken. Yet, if you deliver […]
This article defines and briefly explains the various names and labels given to activities and practices anticipating or foreseeing the future. Indeed, from risk management to Strategic Foresight and Warning (SF&W) the field of anticipation includes many perspectives and practices centred on different themes. Meanwhile, various actors use different names for SF&W, or very similar approaches. It is thus important to clarify what various labels and names mean, even if borders between categories are often fuzzy.