Most organizations engage in the process of strategic planning, developing a mission statement, a vision, and core values that are fleshed out in strategic objectives focused on achieving a future reality within the organization. Unfortunately, often what occurs, is change in the external environment that effects the organizations strategic plan, and sometimes completely ruins it. Though strategic development is vital to the sustainable success of an organization, strategic foresight is vital to the sustainable success of the strategic plan.
Truly great companies invest the time and effort into developing quality foresight and innovation in order to change the environment they operate in for sustained success (Chermack, 2011). The reliance on formalized and analytical approaches to strategic planning have only allowed a shortsighted perspective which has proven fatal for some organizations who could not adapt to unanticipated change, which would have been accounted for if foresight practices would have been implemented (Mintzberg, 2013).
Foresight not only provides perspective of the coming future and change on the horizon, but it also creates a system of early warning signs not possible through traditional strategic planning (“Eyes Wide Open,” 2009). Foresight provides a close look at the external environment and potential developments, which provides dialogue on risk management, anticipation of challenges, and insight into where to invest time and resources (“Eyes Wide Open”, 2009). An approach of strategic foresight provides clarity, creativity, and confidence in strategic planning (Hines, 2006) by allowing those involved to consider their intuition and their entrepreneurial spirits (Mintberg, 2013).
Strategic foresight is a freeing endeavor because there is no cut-and-dried, right-and –wrong answers since it is dealing with possibilities and narrowing down to probabilities (Hines, 2006). To know the future with pinpoint accuracy is not possible, even with strategic foresight, but the field of possibilities can be narrowed down to those that are most probable.
Chermack, T. J. (2011). Scenario planning in organizations: how to create, use, and assess scenarios. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.
Eyes Wide Open: Embracing Uncertainty through Scenario Planning. (2009). Retrieved April 8, 2016, from http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/eyes-wide-open-embracing-uncertainty-through-scenario-planning/
Hines, A. (2006). Strategic Foresight: The State of the Art. The Futurist, vol. 40.5, pp. 18–21.
Mintzberg, H. (2013). Rise and fall of strategic planning. [Place of publication not identified]: Free Press.