By Jenna Mäntynen, Foresight Strategist, Futures Platform
In this How-To segment, we look at a strategic foresight tool that helps us and our client teams to better visualize which trends and megatrends are shaping the future of our organisations and industry sectors.
As a concept, the future is intangible and complex. Thinking about the future and all the possible ways things may unfold and pull the future into different directions can be a daunting task without a systematic approach and supporting tools.
Working with futures with digital tools makes horizon scanning and scenario building work significantly more manageable. Futures Platform’s digital foresight solution brings structure to foresight work by visualising future projections in 360-degree radar views.
The Futures Platform radar functionalities allow for trends to be grouped, categorised and placed in a meaningful manner. This way, radars can be customised to fit different purposes. For instance, users can choose to build radars with time ranges, e.g. 10, 50 or 100 years into the future, group them thematically according to social, economic, technological or environmental changes; or combine any given variables.
Grouping and visualising futures phenomena in a 360-degree view is a great way to explore the links between different futures changes and phenomena in a contextual environment. Below, we examine some of the main functions foresight radars serve and how they assist strategic foresight work within organisations.
Collaborative and shared future views
Scheduling frequent foresight workshops with all the stakeholders across large organisations can prove to be quite difficult, or even outright impossible. Moreover, with so many people and so little time, it may also be challenging to have fruitful sessions and get the most out of these workshops.
Futures Platform’s foresight radars come with built-in collaboration tools that make it easy for teams to collaborate remotely. For example, voting, commenting, and rating tools allow teams to collectively assess the importance and relevance of key trends quickly and effectively.
Futures Platform’s trends database currently includes 700+ futures phenomena and continues to grow on a daily basis. This rich, constantly evolving database of validated information is maintained by leading futurists and assisted by AI bots that continuously roam news articles and research pieces to identify trends ahead of time.
Users can utilise this database in their foresight and scenario work; and they can also place their own phenomena and content types on their radars. The ability to mix existing Futures Platform phenomena with custom, client-specific trends allows users to quickly create radars “on the fly” to cater to specific needs.
Besides providing structure to workshops and engaging stakeholders, the collaborative tools embedded in Futures Platform’s foresight radar also present an excellent opportunity to start conversations across silos, and they help make sure that everyone’s voice within the organisation is taken into account when building future visions.
As co-creating futures becomes all the more critical in a world where our actions and decisions are increasingly interlinked, Futures Platform’s foresight tools respond to an emerging, crucial need to engage with futures collectively.
Scenario visualisation and continuous monitoring
In order to provide an up-to-date view of the future, newly spotted trends and weak signals are frequently added to Futures Platform’s trend database. The existing content is also continuously updated to reflect the latest developments.
Thus, Futures Platform’s foresight tool incredibly speeds up the trend research phase. It gives teams the opportunity to focus their time and resources on building scenarios and exploring the potential impacts of futures phenomena from their organisation’s point of view.
Using foresight radars for scenario development also ensures that foresight work is not limited to one-off projects or sporadic trend reports. With Futures Platform’s foresight radars, organisations can build scenarios and continuously monitor their development with daily updating news streams and the latest signals spotted by futurists.
In today’s fast-evolving operational environments, organisations need to continuously revisit scenarios and adjust strategies. Futures Platform’s AI-assisted foresight intelligence database continuously alerts teams with emerging weak signals of change with disruptive potential, long before they hit the mainstream. This allows organisations to monitor change from a holistic perspective, seize innovation opportunities, manage risks, and potentially become the next disruptor.
Blind spot analysis
Blind spots and bias are an inevitable part of every organisation and industry. They can lead organisations into overlooking key signals of change, missing innovation opportunities, and miscalculating risks.
Industry bias may lead professionals into evaluating future developments incorrectly – for example by overemphasising the impact of trends within their operating environment and underestimating the ones that seem too distant or irrelevant.
Foresight radars can help address blind spots as well as personal bias in multiple ways. For example, one organisation uses Futures Platform’s radar tool to collect the assumptions they have about the future. Once all the assumptions are placed on the radar and visualised according to time range and category; the team then moves on to critically assessing these assumptions to identify their blind spots.
Comparing assumptions with validated futures intelligence also helps professionals in identifying their own personal bias that may be holding them back from seeing new innovation opportunities or identifying alternative solutions to problems.
Moreover, as disruption often comes from outside of one’s own industry, Futures Platform’s foresight radars also help organisations overcome their industry bias by providing a holistic, cross-industry view of the future. With Futures Platform’s rich database of phenomena from all industries globally, organisations can examine the impacts of future trends across industries and discover a cross-industry vantage points for disruptive innovation.
Risk management and innovation spotting
Keeping a cross-industry pulse on emerging signals of change is crucial for risk management. With the compact visualisation of industry landscapes and easy-to-understand descriptions of industry trends, Futures Platform’s foresight radars make it possible to easily monitor changes across sectors and regions.
Monitoring changes in other industries help professionals mitigate the risks of being unprepared for disruption and investing resources into things that won’t be relevant in the future. Existing market monitoring can also be utilised for keeping up with regulatory and perception changes in one’s own industry.
Keeping a pulse on other industries will also help teams spot disruptive ideas and innovation opportunities. With innovation and R&D radars, organisations can, for example, explore innovation whitespace during product and service development phases and take inspiration from analogous business models in different sectors.
Since innovation requires out-of-the-box visionary thinking, cross-industry exploration with radars is particularly useful in identifying novel solutions to industry-specific problems. Similar to blind spot analysis, cross-industry explorations for innovation allow teams to see beyond their area of expertise, look at problems with a fresh pair of eyes, and identify innovative solutions.
Take control of your future with Futures Platform
Continuous foresight gives organisations the agency to co-create and strive towards their desirable futures in an atmosphere of accelerating change and uncertainty. Organisation-wide, collective foresight efforts significantly improve all decision-making, support strategy development, innovation processes as well as risk management.
With its futurist-created, AI-assisted foresight intelligence, Futures Platform’s digital foresight solution allows teams to build their own future-views with foresight radars and share knowledge across their organisation and stakeholders effectively.