Chapter 4. Models – Foundations for Organizational Foresight

3. APF-Houston’s Six Strategic Foresight Activities (Model and Framework)

The Association of Professional Futurists (APF) is our field’s current leading professional body. In 2005, under the leadership of Andy Hines and Peter Bishop of the Houston Foresight MS program, the APF developed a model (or framework, as you prefer) of six activities in strategic foresight. These activities are explained as individual chapters in Hine’s and Bishop’s excellent Thinking About the Future: Guidelines for Strategic Foresight (2006). This book also includes practitioner advice crowdsourced from thirty-six professional futurists. The six essential foresight activities in the APF model are:

  1. Framing
    Identifying biases and assumptions, and defining scope and goals of foresight tasks.
  2. Scanning
    Mapping, monitoring, and learning from a system, its events, and info sources.
  3. Forecasting
    Finding, prioritizing and extrapolating data, drivers and uncertainties.
  4. Visioning
    Identifying implications, challenging assumptions, and engaging in strategic thinking.
  5. Planning
    Turning strategic vision into actionable steps, measures, and processes.
  6. Acting
    Executing agendas, implementing intelligence, and institutionalizing foresight processes.

These categories are convergent on action, and it is also implicitly a cyclical model. As with Eltville, the categories don’t have to proceed in an exact order, and it can take days, weeks, or months to implement the full cycle with clients. Framing alone, negotiating the type of foresight work that the consultant or internal foresight group will do for the client, can easily take weeks to months for complex foresight projects in large bureaucratic organizations. Making that first Framing step explicit, and stressing its importance in the ultimate success of any foresight project, is one of the many benefits of this model/framework.

Hines & Bishop (2006)

Hines & Bishop (2006)

See Thinking About the Future for implementation details. The book includes many brief case studies on foresight projects. It is a great addition to your practice library and an excellent complement to this guide.

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