When we think about the future, it is often in relation to a specific issue, a question or plan or hope or worry that we have. That question, plan, hope, worry is mediated by -- informed, influenced, affected by -- the concerns and worldview of the organization in which we are involved: family, company, agency, non-profit, volunteer assocation, etc.
In turn, the worldview, issues, concerns, operational terms of any organization are influenced by the worldview and culture of the environment within which the organization operates.
What does that mean? Well, if you are an IBM programmer, you work within a culture distinct from that of, say, Apple; but you share the underlying concerns and concepts of the global computer industry.
In strategic planning, when you engage in “SWOT” analyses – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, challenges – you are assessing both your organization’s internal environment (the green circle) and, usually, the organization’s immediate operating context (the yellow circle).
It is the macro environment where the futurist offers help (the orange circle), by identifying emerging issues of change – so-called “weak signals” – and monitoring their escalation or subsidence, as well as the growth of established trends of change. The futurist’s systems perspective assumes the interrelationship of all the systems: change echoes back and forth among them all, and up and down through various subsystems, via information flows, behaviors (actions and reactions), and other forms of feedback.