Chapter 4. Models – Foundations for Organizational Foresight

4. 4U’s Eight Skills of Foresight Practice (Model and Framework)

The Eight Skills are not just a decision cycle model, they are also a foresight practice framework. We organize the Guide around this particular framework, including the foresight methods we will discuss in Chapter 6 (Methods and Frameworks). The Eight Skills offer guidelines for both the relevant capacities and the rough order in which to do our most generally adaptive strategic foresight work.

The Twenty Specialties are guidelines for key specialties in organizational foresight. Chapter 3 (Career Options) outlines where these specialties commonly reside in organizational departments. The Twenty Specialties are also a simple foresight education framework. We’d love to see foresight programs introduce all of them to student practitioners. They are also represented by professional associations that offer specialty foresight training outside our primary training programs, as we saw in Chapter 1.

As we’ve seen, the Do loop and Eight Skills are based on perception-decision-action (PDA) cycles in cognitive science, allowing us to ground foresight in the way humans naturally think, emote, and intuit in the world. Foresight is something we all seek to do at personal, team, organizational, industry, societal and universal (scientific method) levels, to mention six particularly important natural systems.

As a competency framework for our field (a defined set of abilities and behaviors necessary for effectiveness), the Eight Skills have the great advantage of being terms already in common use by the global management community. That allows us to present foresight not as something privileged or specialized, but as skills that all of us have at least in modest amounts as self-managers and relationship managers, skills that great managers, teams, and organizations can further develop as they gain experience.

The unique skills of the foresight profession emerge at the subcompetency level in this framework. All of the Twenty Specialties are included below, often with some new subcompetencies added, making this the most detailed framework in this Guide for what foresighters do. Compared to typical managers and consultants, we lead teams in the development and practice of many special abilities and behaviors to discover, create, and manage futures, including scoping, retrospecting, scanning, sensemaking, predicting, forecasting, baseline futuring, debiasing, alternative futuring, visioning, facilitating, designing, goalsetting, and assessing foresight progress, capacity and performance.

We also distinguish ourselves from the traditional management community in the use of foresight-building models and methods, across all four of the POGU foresight domains. Our field is rich and rapidly changing, and we’ll develop many more competencies as new predictive analytics, machine learning, and crowd foresight tools and platforms emerge.

What follows here is not a definitive list of foresight competencies and subcompetencies, but hopefully a useful start, leaving many questions unanswered. What would you modify, add, or remove? How should organizations of different sizes best apply the Eight Skills, and staff the Twenty Specialties? How do we best assess individual, team, and organizational competency in the Skills, functions, and subcompetencies? For now, we leave such questions to our community for further research.

Recall that the Eight Skills can be divided into Four Foresight Steps (Learning, which is foresight preparation, and the Three P’s, which are foresight production) and Four Action Steps (Execution, Influencing, Relating, and Reviewing). Here they are in detail:

Learning is scoping the client’s needs, gaining the skills, and doing the research to gain foresight.

  • Scoping: defining and bounding the foresight topic, extent, and timeframe, determining stakeholders, diagnosing client and stakeholder knowledge, needs, and receptivity.
  • Mapping: building a map of the topic and categories for research.
  • Metrics and Data: Determining and analyzing key data and indicators to know current status
  • Hindsight: understanding historical context and the most recent discontinuities
  • Learning and Development: engaging a team in training and skillbuilding to improve foresight
  • Scanning: finding emerging issues, indicators and signals of change, aka “scanning hits.”
  • Intelligence/Sensemaking: analyzing and evaluating to gain insight into system patterns.

Anticipating is identifying a set of convergent, baseline, expected futures.

  • Predicting: making specific predictions of an expected future, with a probability attached
  • Forecasting: using trend analysis to estimate a variable of interest over a range of future dates
  • Baseline futuring: forecasting a baseline future from current trends and plans, along with its assumptions and associated risk.
  • Risk management: determining the risk environment and major uncertainties
  • Investing: determining the most viable current opportunities for creating future value

Innovating is generating a range of divergent, possible alternative futures and prototypes.

  • Debiasing: helping clients see their biases, relax pre-conceived notions, see with fresh eyes.
  • Designing: activities or artifacts to explore baseline and alternative futures and visions.
  • Alternative futuring: generating possible and plausible alternative futures or scenarios based on wildcards, ideas, and images built around key uncertainties.

Strategy is enabling re-convergence on visions and real options toward preferred futures.

  • Interpreting: considering the implications suggested by the baseline and alternative futures.
  • Strategizing: reflection and analysis of real options, weighing their pros and cons.
  • Visioning: identifying and getting commitment for a preferred future, or set of futures, and goals/objectives and key results to lead us to those futures.
  • Planning: bridging goals and the present state with tactics and planned actions.

Executing is translating strategy into action (of the client or the foresighter).

  • Facilitating: guiding interpersonal interactions to achieve desired foresight results.
  • Producing: creating and managing our and others foresight products and services.

Influencing is selling foresight work to client leaders and stakeholders.

  • Communicating: relating visions, baseline and alternative futures and strategic options to capture stakeholder attention and influence their actions.
  • Selling: promoting our services, convincing others of their value, growing our practice.

Relating is understanding leaders and stakeholders and acting with their best interests in mind.

  • Empathizing: understanding client fears, hopes, and needs, and their current culture.
  • Teambuilding: creating strong and cognitively diverse practitioner teams.
  • Ethical practice: knowing appropriate behavior for context and culture.

Reviewing is measuring and collecting feedback on the quality and results of foresight work.

  • Assessing progress: tracking indicators or precursors that indicate progress (or not) to a goal, how uncertainty is resolving among baseline and alternative futures, change management.
  • Assessing performance: measuring foresight work quality, and client satisfaction.
  • Assessing capacity: determining whether the client has more internal foresight capacity (without our future help) than they had before our engagement.

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Table of Contents


Chapter 2. Personal Foresight – Becoming an Effective Self-Leader

Chapter 2: Personal Foresight

Becoming an Effective Self-Leader

Chapter 4. Models – Foundations for Organizational Foresight

Chapter 4: Models

Foundations for Organizational Foresight

Chapter 7. Acceleration – Guiding Our Extraordinary Future

Chapter 7: Acceleration

Guiding Our Extraordinary Future (In Process)

II. Global Progress: 5 Goals, 10 Values, Many Trends

Innovation: Our Abundant Future
Intelligence: Our Augmented Future
Interdependence: Our Civil Future
Immunity: Our Protected Future
Sustainability: Our Rebalanced Future

III. Universal Accelerating Change

Great Race to Inner Space: Our Surprising Future
Entropy&Information: We’re Running Down & Up
The Puzzle of Meaning: We Have No Einstein Yet
Trees, Funnels & Landscapes: Intro to Evo Devo
Big Picture Change: Five Scales of Accelerating ED
Transcension Hypothesis: Where Acceleratn Ends?
IDABDAK: Social Response to Accel & Developmnt
We’re On a Runaway Train: Being Accelaware

IV. Evo Devo and Exponential Foresight

Seeing It All: Accel., Diverg, Adapt, Convrg, Decel.
Natural (I4S) Innovation: The Evolutionary Drive
Natural (I4S) Intelligence: The Human-AI Partnership
Natural (I4S) Morality: Why Empathy and Ethics Rule
Natural (I4S) Security: Strength from Disruption
Natural (I4S) Sustainability: The Developmental Drive
S-Curves: Managing the Four Constituencies
Pain to Gain: Traversing the Three Kuznets Phases
Hype to Reality: Beyond Hype Cycles to Reality Checks
Exponentials Database: Measuring Accelerations
TINA Trends: Societal Evolutionary Development
Managing Change: STEEPCOP Events, Probs, Ideas
A Great Shift: A Survival to a Sentient Economy

V. Evo Devo and Exponential Activism

Building Protopias: Five Goals of Social Progress
Normative Foresight: Ten Values of Society
Top & STEEPCOP Acceleratns: Positive & Negative
Dystopias, Risks, and Failure States
Three Levels of Activism: People, Tech & Universe
A Great Opportunity: Exponential Empowerment


Chapter 8. Your Digital Self – The Human Face of the Coming Singularity

Chapter 8: Your Digital Self

The Human Face of the Coming Singularity (In Process)

I. Your Personal AI (PAI): Your Digital Self

Digital Society: Data, Mediation, and Agents
Personal AIs: Advancing the Five Goals
PAI Innovation: Abundance and Diversity
PAI Intelligence: Bio-Inspired AI
PAI Morality: Selection and Groupnets
PAI Security: Safe Learning Agents
PAI Sustainability: Science and Balance
The Human Face of the Coming Singularity

II. PAI Protopias & Dystopias in 8 Domains

1. Personal Agents: News, Ent., Education
2. Social Agents: Relat. and Social Justice
3. Political Agents :  Activism & Represent.
4. Economic Agents:  Retail, Finance, Entrep
5. Builder Agents :  Work, Innov. & Science
6. Environ. Agents : Pop. and Sustainability
7. Health Agents :  Health, Wellness, Death
8. Security Agents :  Def., Crime, Corrections

III. PAI Activism & Exponential Empowerment

Next Government: PAIs, Groupnets, Democ.
Next Economy: Creat. Destr. & Basic Income
Next Society: PAI Ent., Mortality & Uploading
What Will Your PAI Contribution Be?

Chapter 10. Startup Ideas – Great Product & Service Challenges for Entrepreneurs

Chapter 10: Startup Ideas

Great Product and Service Challenges for Entrepreneurs (In Process)

I. 4U’s Idea Hub: Building Better Futures

Air Deliveries and Air Taxis: Finally Solving Urban Gridlock
Ballistic Shields and Gun Control: Protecting Us All from Lone Shooters
Bioinspiration Wiki: Biomimetics and Bio-Inspired Design
Brain Preservation Services: Memory and Mortality Redefined
Carcams: Document Thieves, Bad Driving, and Bad Behavior
Competition in Govt Services: Less Corruption, More Innovation
Computer Adaptive Education (CAE): Better Learning and Training
Conversational Deep Learning Devsuites: Millions of AI Coders
Digital Tables: Telepresence, Games, Entertainment & Education
Dynaships: Sustainable Low-Speed Cargo Shipping
Electromagnetic Suspension: Nausea-Free Working & Reading in Cars
Epigenetic Health Tests: Cellular Aging, Bad Diet, Body Abuse Feedback
Fireline Explosives and Ember Drones: Next-Gen Fire Control
Global English: Empowering the Next Generation of Global Youth
Greenbots: Drone Seeders and Robotic Waterers for Mass Regreening
High-Density Housing and Zoning: Making Our Cities Affordable Again
Highway Enclosures and Trail Networks: Green and Quiet Urban Space
Inflatable Packaging: Faster and Greener Shipping and Returns
Internet of Families: Connecting People Over Things
Kidcams: Next-Gen Security for Child Safety and Empowerment
Kidpods: Indoor & Outdoor Parent-Assistive Toyboxes
Microdesalination: Democratizing Sustainable Fresh Water Production
Noise Monitors: Documenting and Reducing Noise Pollution
Oceanside Baths: Sustainable Year Round Beach Enjoyment
Open Blood Scanners: DIY Citizen Health Care Sensor Tech
Open Streaming Radio: User-Centered Audio Creation and Rating
Open Streaming Video: User-Centered Video Creation and Rating
Open Values Filters: Social Rankers, Arg. Mappers, and Consensus Finders
Personal AIs: Your Private Advisor, Activist, and Interface to the World
Pet Empowerment: Next-Gen Rights and Abilities for Our Domestic Animals
Safe Closets: Fire-, Earthquake-, and Intruder-Proof Retreat Spaces
Safe Cars: Reducing Our Insane 1.3M Annual Auto Deaths Today
Safe Motorcycles: Lane Splitting in Gridlock Without Risk of Death
Shared Value Insurance: User-Centered Risk Reduction Services
Sleeperbuses and Microhotels: Demonetized Intercity Travel
Space-Based Solar Power: Stratellite Powering and Weather Management
Stratellites: Next-Gen Urban Broadband, Transparency, and Security
Touch DNA: Next-Gen Home Security and Crime Deterrence
View Towers: Improving Urban Walkability, Inspiration, and Community

Chapter 11. Evo Devo Foresight – Unpredictable and Predictable Futures

Chapter 11: Evo Devo Foresight

Unpredictable and Predictable Futures

Appendix 1. Peer Advice – Building a Successful Foresight Practice