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Strategic Foresight

Learning From The Future

Strategic Foresight is a set of skills and tools used to explore potential futures, so that you can plan for and take advantage of those futures.

The book first explores how we think about the future, looking at ambiguity and uncertainty. It introduces a simple model of preferred thinking styles and talks about the ‘baggage’ and values that form our perceptions.

The next section covers models, tools and maps that people will find useful for developing their own Strategic Foresight and using this knowledge to make decisions, whilst uncovering innovation and creativity to turn this Foresight knowledge to competitive advantage.

The next two sections cover: • How to identify emerging trends; what impact they may have on your business; the strategic importance of early recognition; and how to apply the knowledge in your business. • Harnessing Strategic Foresight as a springboard for innovation and creativity to develop new paradigms and take advantage of what may come.

Finally, the author describes a practical method for exploring potential futures for your business in order to take robust decisions and develop strategies that help you work towards your preferred future.

Case studies are interspersed throughout the book, along with exercises to encourage readers to ‘think along’ with the ideas.

About the author

Patricia Lustig is a widely recognised and talented practitioner in Strategic Foresight and strategy development, future thinking and innovation.

She has held senior advisory positions and led OD teams at major blue-chip companies such as BP, Motorola and Logica (supporting New Product Development at Motorola and Exploration & Production teams at BP in innovation, developing creativity and developing strategy).

She was a Programme Director at Management Centre Europe working in the In-Company division (designing and running In-Company bespoke programmes), a Visiting Executive Fellow at Henley Business School and CIPD Faculty for Scenario Planning and Foresight. She has recently run interactive Foresight sessions for London Business School’s Executive Education

Praise for the book

“A common boardroom feeling is that never before have we needed ‘more hindsight sooner’. Couple that with the increasingly common feeling that the tried and tested approaches to strategy formulation are no longer enough. They still work – as far as they go – but they need to be supplemented with additional tools for looking ahead further than has become the norm, and with more intellectual rigour. This book shows us a way of doing that.”

Sir David Brown, Engineer and Industrialist.

Reviews of Strategic Foresight

“Strategic Foresight is not some kind of mystical ability! It is simply the most important set of skills and tools in any leader’s tool set. Tricia Lustig writes about these on the basis of her 35 years of experience in organisations from different sectors, and of all sizes.

Puzzled about things such as paradigms, systems thinking, horizon scanning, and stakeholder engagement? Want to know how to identify exactly where there is energy for change in your organisation, and then how to harness that energy to make change happen? …To survive and even flourish in the vastly tangled terrain in which we all live now, here is a simply-written guide.”

Prabhu Guptara, Chairman, Relational Thinking Network, Geneva

“Strategic Foresight paves the way to prepare your organization for the future. Every business, government, education, and nonprofit leader should read this book.”

Herb Rubenstein, Lecturer in Strategic Management, UC Denver

“Tricia Lustig’s advocacy of strategic foresight – and her elegantly simple explanations of how to turn theory into practice – is the voice of a wise navigator who has deep experience and intimacy with the corporate soul.”

Michael McAllum, Founder & Futures Architect, Global Foresight Network

“Strategic Foresight offers a coherent framework to help strategic leaders think differently – providing practical processes, tools and techniques to help leaders seize the initiative and shape the future of their organisations. Helping them to imagine possible futures and learn from them, to develop robust, stress-tested strategies, improve their decision-making and the ability to deliver change. For strategic leaders in the Public Sector looking to meet the challenges of tomorrow++, the practice of strategic foresight strikes me as one of the most important, relevant and necessary practices that they can have and develop today.”

Chris Bradley, Senior Commercial Manager, Surrey County Council

“This book is an excellent how-to manual that not only helps the reader assess the present environment, and develop strategy, but also to understand the knock-on effects of trends and weak signals and then communicate them into an organization to change it – make it strategically ready for the what the world is throwing at it. From basic terminology, to emergent behaviors, from gathering information to putting a strategy in place, this book covers strategic foresight in a practical, easy to read, and actionable manner suitable for the C suite to front-line management.”

Jim Breaux, MSF, APF Director

“Strategy is often thought of as a lonely task for Chief Executives and Directors of Strategy. The tools outlined in this book allow leaders to share the process, harvest the diversity of their teams by using foresight to build upon the collective wisdom of an organisation and make a better decision about direction and strategy. And to do this while knowing that their people are aligned behind and with them.”

Martin Hazell, Director, Simplexity Ltd.

“Tricia Lustig describes many useful tools and hands-on ways to use foresight as a way to futureproof any business and have fun at the same time. Written simply, in a confident conversational style, but with a profoundly down-to-earth appreciation of what leaders actually need, this compelling and hugely informative book will enlighten managers like no other book on the topic has managed to do.”

Richard Hames, strategic adviser to institutions, corporations and governments

Excerpt from Strategic Foresight

“The benefits of using Strategic Foresight

Strategic Foresight can help you to manage uncertainty, improve your decision-making, your implementation of strategy and your ability to adapt to and cope with future change and challenge. It is the practice you use to engage with the future, make sense of what you see and make decisions based upon this.

Strategic Foresight helps you manage uncertainty

Practising Strategic Foresight helps you begin to see what you can influence, what you can control and what you can’t. It may be uncomfortable to become more aware of the things you can’t control or influence, but learning what they are helps you avoid wasting time on them. Getting a clearer view and grip on what is out there and approaching you (at speed) helps to reduce your feelings of uncertainty. It helps you put boundaries around what you can do something about, it helps you to understand the decisions that you can make and then helps you to choose the strategic actions to take today that will benefit you in the near future (and hopefully the longer term future as well). The tools help you to get a handle on complexity as you identify the trends and driving forces that are in your world today.

Strategic Foresight improves the quality of your decisions

You will develop visions of potential futures that will help you (as a leader) and your people make decisions for themselves about things as diverse as future learning, new careers and lifestyle choices, as well as decisions concerning your organisation’s direction and strategy. Exploring the implications of emerging trends and drivers at a deeper level enables you to uncover previously hidden threats and opportunities.

Properly undertaken with a diverse group of stakeholders, your strategy and decisions – which come out of the potential futures you envision – will be based on a wide variety of knowledge and input which gives you a wider choice and in the end a better, more robust, decision. Don’t forget that these decisions involve both what you will do and what you will stop doing, or what you decide not to do, as Motorola did with its television division.

Strategic Foresight improves implementation of your strategy

It helps create buy-in among stakeholders as they participate in identifying, defining and making sense of potential futures and their impact. This encourages people to work together on common goals. When a group of people share an understanding of the threats and opportunities that they face, it stimulates innovative thinking in the areas that will be of greatest impact. Then it becomes clear what needs to be done, what decisions need to be made and what changes need to be implemented.

Strategic Foresight improves your capability to handle change

Developing a ‘Strategic Foresight Culture’ means that you and your colleagues are better prepared for what might hit you, either negative or positive, as the future unfolds. Strategic Foresight creates an increased awareness of possible risks and opportunities and of the larger system in which you and your organisation operate. You will develop a shared vocabulary to discuss and make sense of events as they occur. You will begin to jointly identify weak signals of things that are changing. This enhances your resilience both as an individual leader and as an organisation. In a competitive and rapidly changing world, Strategic Foresight enhances the capacity to design change and manage non-routine events. ”

Previous Books

Books from the LASA Team:

Beyond Crisis: Achieving Renewal in a Turbulent World

By Gill Ringland, Patricia Lustig and Oliver Sparrow
John Wiley & Sons, 2010
327 pages

Like a child in a sweet shop, I was overwhelmed with the choice of goodies on display. This book is a treasure trove of great insights, useful tools, handy hints and homily wisdom. Even before I'd finished it, I had fired off emails to colleagues extolling them to "read this book", "use the tools on pages X and Y", and the like.

The overarching message is one that standing still is not an option. We need to open our eyes to ourselves and to what's happening around us and to have the courage to accept, welcome and embrace change. As I read it, I was conscious of having one eye on my own organisation; undertaking a strategic review in my mind as I turned the pages. Are we a PS-RO? Do we have a clear Narrative? Do we have the right Machinery? etc.

My Hero Quest is to build strategic thinking into my organisation. On my journey, I will return time and again to this book for help, guidance and reassurance. It may not deliver renewal, but having it to light the way will give us more of a fighting chance!

Gary Kass, Natural England (used with permission).

Here be Dragons: navigating in an uncertain world.

By Gill Ringland, Patricia Lustig and Rob Phaal with Martin Duckworth and Chris Yapp
The Choir Press, 2012
251 pages

Here be Dragons was written in response to requests from readers of Beyond Crisis (John Wiley, 2010), which introduced the "Cycle of Renewal". Readers wanted to know what the Cycle of Renewal looked like "on the ground"; how would you get started? How would you decide which tools to use? Who would do the work? What would it look like on a daily basis? And, most importantly, what impact would you see on business performance? Here be Dragons addresses these questions in two ways. The first, The Columbus Project, describes the journey taken by a fictional organisation (FutureParts Vehicle Supplies) which was set the challenge of renewing itself. The staff of FutureParts are entirely fictional, but they represent some of the characters and organisational structures that form the context for change in many organisations. The story illustrates some of the common hurdles and tools, so that business leaders may recognise some of the characteristics of what works and what does not as they spearhead organisational change. The second part of the book is a Pilot's Guide to the tools which the Columbus Project used to help the business renew itself. The tools are designed to enhance the ability to think long term while being effective in the short term - balancing the paradoxes leaders face on a daily basis. Both parts focus pragmatically on why each tool should be used, when and how they should be used, together with the results to expect and how each fits into the Cycle of Renewal.

LASA: Making Change Happen.