When I introduce myself as a strategic foresight practitioner, I often get a blank look in return.

Foresight is a broad field, with loads of applications, abstraction, and methods that can take a long time to wrap your head around. Most folk hearing about foresight for the first time don’t have the time or energy for all that.

So when I see that blank look, this is how I explain what foresight’s about.

Past dynamics + weak signals = potential futures

Foresight looks at the dynamics of the past, notices weak signals of change in the present, and combines these to consider what the future might hold.

Futures not ‘the future’

Foresight works in plurals. We consider multiple potential futures, not just ‘the future’ we consider to be most likely.

Impacts & implications

Foresight pays attention to connections and relationships, considering how a shift in one space might ripple out to influence others.

Think about the unthinkable

Foresight creates space for us to safely explore unthinkable futures. This is rather important, because the unthinkable happens more often than we’d like.

Work with complexity & emergence

Foresight provides methods, frameworks and tools that guide our work with complex systems and situations, and working with what emerges.

Get comfortable with not knowing

Many of us spend a lot of time in the space of being expert, of having answers, of knowing. No matter how skilled and expert we become, there is always more that we can’t know than what we do. Having a practice that helps us get comfortable in spaces of not knowing builds resilience for the unexpected.

Anchored to the present

Thinking about the future is only useful when it is anchored back to the present. We use foresight to consider what actions (and non-actions) we can take today to be more resilient tomorrow.