The Changing Story of Foresight
Some thoughts on what foresight means - and whether a single definition matters.
When futures studies began to emerge in the 1960s, its focus was a specific process — forecasting and the Delphi method at the RAND corporation. Since then the field has developed and formalised around a range of different processes, with scenario planning becoming a dominant method over time. That is changing at the moment as more open, participatory, citizen based processes are being used. This process focus is well recognised in the futures literature, and a theory basis for the field is also developing.
I started thinking about this recently when I saw another attempt to use foresight as a tool, a process, and a competitive advantage. Then I started to wonder when the term ‘foresight’ became an accepted one in the futures field. I found my foresight around 2000, but the quotation by HG Wells in 1932 about the need for professors of foresight must be one of the earliest mentions. In hindsight, I can pinpoint the day I realised that foresight had become overt for me, and it’s that so…