Emerging issues of change; and
Today we are going to focus on the hunt for new sources of change.
What is the strategy? It is something of a field-ground question, a question of contrasts. You can’t be a good futurist without being a bit of a historian (or you could do what I did, and marry one): history provides us with a context for change, patterns of past change, and analogies for current impacts from change. So we begin by taking a mental snapshot of the future: what are current conditions? If we observe some part of our environment -- like, say, hemlines -- changing, can we determine whether that’s an ongoing trend, an entirely new change, or perhaps a cycle that recurs historically? In the case of hemlines, of course, the latter.
Trends are, basically, any change in a measurable variable over time. One of the most obvious, and largest, is the increase in world population. A potentially even larger, but much less obvious -- or even agreed upon -- would be the gradual warming of the Earth’s atmosphere. Another is the continuing decline in the cost of microchips and consequently computers. An emerging issue is a trend with only one or two cases -- a trend only you have noticed! A wild card is a low probability but high impact change -- like a global plague.
A foresight-based approach to strategic planning assigns some planning resources to identifying and monitoring changes. And for each change driver, it asks the question, “what if …what if this continues? what else would change?”