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Future skills
Trends and Foresight

I am fascinated by those topics.

For ‘Trends and Foresight’, I think that my curiosity was triggered when I was followed by @gleonhard on Twitter.

Then I started diving into the series of blogs posts on foresight by @VenessaMiemis, and especially this one: Essential Skills for 21st Century Survival: Part 4: Foresight


The ability to develop foresight is a cornerstone for forward thinking individuals and change agents. I can say that on the personal level in my own life, when I did not have a clearly defined goal or vision of what I wanted or where I was going, I floundered. My ability to “see” potential opportunities or pitfalls was clouded, and I fell into a rut or holding pattern in life. Then, when those wild cards and “black swan events” did occur, I was completely blindsided and unprepared to handle them. I think this applies at the individual as well as the organizational level.

So what exactly is foresight? Here are a few definitions from the wikipedia page on Foresight (Futures Studies):

– critical thinking concerning long term development
– debate and effort to create wider participatory democracy
– shaping the future, especially by influencing public policy

These components can also be restated as follows:

– futures (forecasting, forward thinking, perspectives)
– planning (strategic analysis, priority setting
– networking (participatory, dialogic) tools and orientations

Essentially, foresight the ability to see “the long view;” to look at information from the past and present, extract the patterns and lessons, and use them to inform decision-making in order to impact the direction things go into the future. There are a range of tools for foresight, the most common being: environmental scanning, trend analysis, brainstorming, modeling, gaming, visioning, and scenario development. Scanning was already covered earlier in this series, so here is a brief overview of the others.”

How about the principles for thinking like a futurist? Marina Gorbis, Executive Director of the Institute for the Future have introduced them in a blog post.

“In my twenty years at the Institute, I’ve developed five core principles for futures thinking:

  1. Forget about predictions.

  2. Focus on signals.

  3. Look back to see forward.

  4. Uncover patterns.

  5. Create a community.”

She concludes her article with those thoughts:

At its best, futures thinking is not about predicting the future; rather, it is about engaging people in thinking deeply about complex issues, imagining new possibilities, connecting signals into larger patterns, connecting the past with the present and the future, and making better choices today. Futures thinking skills are essential for everyone to learn in order to better navigate their own lives and to make better decisions in the face of so many transformations in our basic technologies and organizational structures. The more you practice futures thinking, the better you get. The five principles outlined above—not focusing on predictions, uncovering signals, understanding historical trajectories, weaving together larger patterns, and bringing diverse voices into the conversation—should help you on your journey of making futures thinking a way of life for you and your community.”

Back in the days, I was also interacting with another futurist via Twitter, @DrLizAlexander as she published an ebook on ‘How to use a Futurist’ in collaboration with peers / futurists in her network. After I read it, here the visual synthesis that I did below.

ebook future futurist insights trends insights foresight practices work rotana ty

So ‘Trends and Foresight’ is a topic du jour that has always been on my mind somehow over years. I also participated to a webinar brought by @IFTF on foresight. It was fascinating to hear and see via Zoom how Microsoft is exploring the futures and the possibilities.

“Ming-Li Chai is Principal Design Researcher, and Harald Becker is Director Industry Engagement & Research. They spoke about how they create, communicate, and inspire their colleagues, partners, and users with foresight and insight.”

Does foresight start with seeing the world through fresh eyes?

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Source: Sketchnote by Tanmay Vora, shared by Kenneth Mikkelsen on Twitter

Update: You can go deep into futures thinking practices by doing this online course: Ready, Set, Future! Introduction to Futures Thinking, that is brought by Jane McGonigal from the Institute For The Future.

Do you want to think about the future with more creativity and optimism? Do you want to see what’s coming faster, so you can be better prepared for disruptions and more in control of your future? Do you want to get better at changing what’s possible today – in your company, your industry, your community, and in your own life?


This course will introduce you to the practice of futures thinking, as developed and applied for the past 50 years by the Institute for the Future, a Silicon-Valley-based research and learning group founded in 1968. In this course, you’ll build your understanding of what futures thinking is and what you can do with it. You’ll master essential foresight techniques. You’ll meet some professional futurists. And you’ll choose one or more future topics you want to investigate with your new foresight skills.


This course is for anyone who wants to spot opportunities for innovation and invention faster. You can gain the skills and confidence to help YOU become someone who makes the future, instead of letting the future happen to you.

How about yourself? How do you see the world with fresh eyes?

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