Chapter 3. Career Options - Great Ways to Be a Foresight Leader

1. Top Management

Top management, which includes C-suite leaders, partners, directors, and their advisors, have the greatest ability to either promote or block foresight activities in the firm. Here are a few foresight career questions to consider asking before joining this department: Does management contain any visionary, invested leaders who strive to see around corners, to discover or create the next big thing, and to drive the firm toward an organizational vision? How many of their leaders are instead reactionary and short-term? Is strategy a big deal, where many options and possibilities are generated and explored prior to decisionmaking, or is it usually a seat-of-the-pants rush job? Has leadership heard of and employed strategic foresight? Are they learning- and evidence-centric, or are they political and turf-centric? Are they aware of the trends affecting their industry, and do they have a sense of which are most important, most inevitable, and most uncertain? Do they work with expert external advisors and other stakeholders to improve their strategy and decision making, or are they insular? Can they execute decisions rapidly when necessary, and deliberately when not, or do they have only one execution speed? Do they embrace a diversity of views and recognize ambiguity and uncertainty when they exist, or do they drive the firm reflexively into conformity and false certainty?

Scaling Up (2014), Maintaining Strategic Agility

Scaling Up (2014),
Maintaining Strategic Agility

Verne Harnish’s Scaling Up (2014) is a great practical workbook that helps founders scale a company as demand grows, rather than stall out in size due to mounting complexity, which is the much more common result. It is also a starter guide to maintaining strategic agility, the ability of an organization’s leadership to move quickly, with a minimum of politics, when the evidence presents itself, and hold off on commitments when they aren’t needed, or when the evidence is unclear. Without operational agility in top leadership, foresight may be of little value, as the firm often can’t benefit from it. Doz and Kosonen’s Fast Strategy (2008) and John Kotter’s Accelerate (2014) are also good primers on keeping strategic agility as the enterprise grows. Bob Johansen’s Leaders Make the Future (2012) offers tips on assessing foresight competency in senior management. Without future-oriented leaders, foresight in the other organizational functions can only happen at the margins, in stealth, or under a local champion in the firm. Fortunately, the more complex, rapidly-changing, or competitive an industry becomes, the greater the chance to propose foresight work to senior management, from inside or outside the firm.

There are also many powerful new tools that improve management’s leadership and strategic foresight abilities. For example, enterprise relationship management software, an outgrowth of CRM, is new way to bring visualization and options foresight (strategic alternatives) to understanding the firm’s relationships and alliances.

In the typical firm, Top Management is responsible for fully six foresight specialties, though they may not recognize this. In alpha order (after Management & Leadership itself), those specialties are:

  1. Management & Leadership,
  2. Alternatives & Scenarios,
  3. Auditing & Change Management,
  4. Entrepreneurship & Intrapreneurship,
  5. Facilitation & Gaming,
  6. Strategy & Planning.

Most obviously, top management has responsibility for Management & Leadership, as well as the Strategy half of the specialty of Strategy & Planning, where the organization’s priorities and plans are determined; Visioning, or development of motivating strategic visions around achieving goals and Framing, or defining the scope of foresight tasks, are also important tasks of Strategy.

Less obviously, top management is also responsible for Auditing & Change Management, the discovery of problems and the generation of changes and at times, turnarounds in organizational goals, processes and performance. For a great primer on Change Management, read Kotter’s Leading Change (2012). Gerstner’s Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance (2003), on IBM, and Bratton’s The Turnaround (1998), on the NYPD, also offer inspiring case examples of successful management turnarounds in very large organizations.

The C-suite is also directly responsible for Entrepreneurship & Intrapreneurship, the growing and rewarding of new business ventures, many of which may compete against their own current businesses. Intrapreneurship recognizes the continual need for any organization to disrupt itself with new products, services, and business models, to incentivize internal entrepreneurs, and quell the inevitable infighting that occurs when new startups compete against established businesses. Clay Christensen’s The Innovators Dilemma (1997/2016) is the classic on the difficulty of this process.

Entrepreneurship & Intrapreneurship are perhaps the most difficult of all these functions for top management in large organizations, particularly when the new ventures compete with and undercuts a firm’s existing incentives, products and services, and thus also require change management. Owens and Fernandez’s, The Lean Enterprise (2014), outlines ways large firms can stay entrepreneurial even as their primary products and services enter maturity. Leaders in such situations must commit outsized incentives, capital, freedom, and usually separate facilities to their internal entrepreneurs, and typically give them limited time and resources, place multiple competing bets, and reward winners only when a clear leader emerges, which may take years to occur.

Without such commitments, most intrapreneurship and startup incubation initiatives will devolve into safe, incremental, low-yield internal innovation, underperforming acquisitions and acqui-hires, and resource-wasting sideshows. No wonder it’s so difficult to be entrepreneurial in large firms. Top managers can come from all three of Kirton’s cognitive styles, an organizational psychology topic discussed in Chapter 2.

Finally, top management has the primary responsibility for the exploration and stress-testing of their strategy via regular generation of Alternatives & Scenarios, and the continual use of Facilitation & Gaming. Other departments will use these specialties as well, but if the firm’s top strategy department doesn’t use these strategic foresight specialties, their outcomes will be much poorer as a result.

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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