Chapter 1. Introduction – Our Emerging Foresight Field

Foresight Professional – A Simple Definition

Pioneering futurist Joe Coates (1929-2014), offered us a simple, starter definition: a foresight professional is anyone who takes money for looking to and analyzing the future, for a client. Some of us may do mostly pro bono work, but as in professional sports, once even a small part of our income and job description can be tied to future thinking, and once we serve a particular client, we belong in a different category. A future-thinker without a paying client is an amateur, a lover of the field, but not yet a professional.

How do we assess client impact in our foresight practice? Consider public health futurist Annette Gardner’s suggested foresight practice competency scale. She proposes that a good model for foresight competency assessment may be a variation of the quantitative Knowledge, Attitude, and Practice (KAP) survey model for assessing professional competency based on the way the professional affects behavior change capacity in one’s clients. The KAP model originated in public health, and is now being applied to a few other professional fields.

Below is my own adaptation of her proposed foresight practice competency scale and language:

Gardner’s Foresight Practice Competency Levels (for practitioners):

0 = No foresight – practitioner is fine with the status quo.
1 = Awareness of time, change, environment, the future, and complex systems, including accelerating change and evolutionary development (evo devo).
2 = Interested in learning foresight techniques, and connecting with and learning with other future-thinking practitioners, within your own industry, at least.
3 = Knowledgeable in some foresight techniques, and experienced in applying some to yourself or others, but not yet experienced in applying all of the Three P’s or Eight Skills.
4 = Individual change agent – experienced applying Three P’s and Eight Skills to individual personal or professional futures.
5 = Group change agent – experienced engaging teams and groups to produce anticipatory (probable), creative (possible), and aspirational (preferable) foresight and change.
6 = Master/teacher – able to teach others to teach foresight techniques, and help grow a foresight culture of anticipatory, creative, and aspirational change.

Where would you presently self-rate on this scale? Where would your colleagues rank you? Your well-respected critics? Do you seek to make your own foresight work redundant (increasingly unneeded) over time? Are you creating the conditions for a healthy foresight culture that is stronger than any individual? Is that the highest goal of your interactions with your clients? Not only should a foresight professionals create positive, progressive, and adaptive change with their clients, ideally they will produce conditions that perpetuate such change. A master/teacher, on the competency scale above, has made themselves particularly redundant, as an individual, in the system in which they practice. The client’s culture and processes can now take care of themselves.

The Temporal Triad


Reynolds (2015)

Recall our discussion of the Temporal Triad of cognitive-emotional processes that good practitioners must continually balance to be adaptive. To build foresight in a strategic environment, a professional first needs good hindsight (knowledge of relevant history) and insight (knowledge of causal factors and data for the current situation).

The Renaissance scholar and poet Petrarch (1304-1374) was perhaps our earliest modern scholar to propose the importance of this triad. He said we must first develop a “mastery” in our understanding of the past if we wish to improve upon it. Petrarch was an early founder of humanism, and coined the term “Dark Ages” when Europe was barely out of them in 1330. As did Petrarch, some foresight practitioners find that first explaining the value of hindsight and insight to their clients is the shortest path to helping them understand the value of foresight, our third great class of mental work.

But unfortunately, having foresight alone does not ensure that we will be adaptive. Adaptability requires successful strategy, planning and execution. For that we need strategic foresight, foresight that changes our strategy, plans, and actions, and adaptive foresight, strategy, plans, and action that improve our present condition and increase our long-term environmental success.

Peter Bishop

Peter Bishop

Peter Bishop, the recently retired Associate Professor of the U. Houston MS Foresight program and a leading light to many in our field is fond of saying, “change is hard, but stagnation is fatal”. To survive, often the only way forward is better strategic management of change. Using your foresight skills to bring success to your clients and yourself is thus a challenging, humbling, yet exciting and potentially rewarding journey.

Peter’s Teach the Future initiative is a noble effort to bring foresight curricula and values to academic institutions, pre-K through graduate level. It is an inspiring example of the steps we must take together to build a stronger global foresight culture in coming years, and we urge you to give him your support. Almost all our best ideas start with a few bold steps in the right direction.

Envisioning Your Professional Needs

Any professional looking to get paid at least occasionally for their foresight work, even if they do it only a few minutes or hours a week in their job description, as is the case for most of us, should ask themselves questions like the following:

  1. What kinds of foresight work do you most have a passion to do? What kinds should you also do regardless of your passion?
  2. How much or little of your job should your foresight work involve?
  3. Who are the right clients for your foresight work? What kinds of foresight work do your clients expect? What do they need?
  4. How will you know your work is effective? How will you prove your value to your clients?
  5. Who are your foresight colleagues, and how can they support your work?

We’ll cover some tentative answers for these questions, for both very part-time foresight professionals (most of us) and for full-time foresight professionals, in the remainder of this chapter. For some clients, the foresight professional may be expected to be an independent, extroverted generalist, continually expanding the client’s horizons, and consistently delivering new learning. For others, the foresight professional may be expected to be a team player, a specialist, or an employee happy to work alone on a particular foresight method, competency, or product.

We will discuss a variety of choices and types of foresight professional in Chapter 3, Career Options. Finding your place in this pantheon of possibilities is part of your professional journey. The more you learn to balance hindsight, insight, and foresight, and the Three Ps, the more effective and enjoyable your foresight journey will become.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

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