Hypotheticals, Scenarios and Foresight

Strategic foresight is defined as the use of techniques and frameworks of hypothetically standing in the future to understand where the organization may be (Marsh, et al., 2002, p 2). Strategic foresight is about creating new perspectives on key issues concerning an organization today through an integrated approach to strategy which results in discovery and articulation of a preferred direction for the organization (Marsh, et al., 2002, p 2 – 4). Strategic foresight follows hypothetical cases which describe an organizations response to crisis management, opportunity management, risk management and potential changes in a given sector (Marsh, et al., 2002, p 11). Leaders may best incorporate foresight methodologies through the framework focused on what would be most critical to an organizations success (Hines, 2006, p 18).

Hines (2006) offers the following key areas of focus critical to an organizations strategic foresight success (p 18):

Framing: attitudes, audience, work environment, rationale and purpose, objectives, and teams.

Scanning: the system, history and context of the issue, and how to scan for information regarding the future of the issue.

Forecasting:drivers and uncertainties, tools, diverging and converging approaches, and alternatives.

Visioning:implications of the forecast, and envisioning designed outcomes.

Planning:strategy and options for carrying out the vision.

Acting:communicating the results, developing action agendas, and institutionalizing strategic thinking and intelligence systems.

Literature argues most analysts have little experience or formal training in strategic forecasting (Hines, 2006, p 18). Strategic forecasting requires we change our thinking by moving from the predominant view of the present as described as ‘Mental Model One’ and creating and using ‘Mental Model Two’ which permits the participant to thinking more clearly about the future in the context of ten years or more (Marsh, et al., 2002, p 5-6). While complex, strategic forecasting can be beneficial when formal process are followed.


Marsh, Nick, McAllum, Mike, and Purcell, Dominique (2002). “Why Strategic Foresight?” Retrieved 5/1/2012 from global foresight dot net

Hines, Andy (2006). “Strategic Foresight” The Futurist. World Futurist Society. September-October 2006. pp. 18 – 21.


Dr. Philip A. Foster is a leadership/business coach and consultant and Adjunct Professor. He is a noted Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organizational Development, Foresight and Strategic Leadership. Dr. Foster facilitates change through the design and implementation of strategies, strategic foresight, and planning.
He holds a Masters in Organizational Leadership and a Doctorate of Strategic Leadership. He has published scholarly articles and is the bestselling author of The Open ...

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