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How to reinforce your foresight – part two

Written by Julian Valkieser

Julian Valkieser shares his thoughts on “reinforcing foresight” in this blog post for our Emerging Fellows program. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the APF or its other members.


In my previous article I went out on a limb. I argued that professional futurists need to support their conclusions, even take a bet on their statement. WHAT DOES A FUTURIST DO? His scenarios serve as guidance for future decisions. Often he also gives a direct recommendation. He bases this on scientific methods and tools. This is quite legitimate. Finally, analysis techniques are mostly scientifically established. What I miss at this point is the own bet for a recommendation. The Futurist Advisor has to ask himself: Would I invest a part of my money or my capabilities in this recommendation? Actually, every futurist has to do exactly this on every completed job. At this point we need to differentiate. On the one hand, I argue in my previous article that futurists have to act more like entrepreneurs, on the other hand futurists should not neglect entrepreneurs in their analysis as all other factors in the typical environmental analysis. What is the most promising technological possibility good for, if there is no entrepreneur who can convince his supporters and the market? So would Hype Cycles, Trend Radars and Technology Scenarios hardly worth anything, if they don’t analyze the creators of these trends and achievements. PINCHOT AND PELLMAN WROTE: “Bet On People, Not Just Ideas – Many traditional management practices are based on making sure subordinates get the results specified in the plan. However, since innovation never goes according to plan, betting on plans for innovation is foolish. When making investments in innovation, bet instead on a team of people who can fix things fast when they don’t work as expected.” (Pinchot/Pellman, 1999) However that may be – it is easier said than done. There are a few foresight methods that look at personalities and characters. One example is the agent-based model analysis. Wherein this tends to focus more on macro level and behavior of systems. Looking at the list of methods of analysis, e.g. of Magruk or Gordon & Glenn, you can hardly find methods that dive deeper into the more micro level, to characterize a few relevant individuals for future development according to their influence. Zhu et al. classified characteristics of participants in a corporate crowdsourcing competition. They identified two main characteristics to distinguish: Creativity and proactivity. In a matrix this characteristics could be clustered as mentioned in my previous article: Intrapreneur, Creative Innovator, Proactive Promoter and Follower. The Intrapreneur is referred to be highly creative and proactive. (Zhu et al., 2014) Pinchot characterized it similarly. (Pinchot, 1986) Pinchot lists a few more characters that are necessary for a successful establishment of a future project or innovation: Sponsor, Protector and Promoter. So as they are related to the Intrapreneur in a company, these characters can also be found in the external environment of a representing Entrepreneur. In my opinion, a prospective analysis should rather refer to personalities and entrepreneurial characters, than on bare circumstances. In the next article I will go deeper into it. REFERENCES: Gordon, T. J.; Glenn J. C. (2004): Paper7: Integration, Comparisons, and Frontierof Future Research Methods. For: EU-US Seminar: New Technology Foresight, Forecasting& Assessment Methods, Seville, 13-14 May 2004 Magruk, A. (2011): Innovative Classification of Technology Foresight Methods. In:Technological and Economic Development of Economy, Vol. 17, No. 4, S. 700-715 Pinchot, G. (1986): Intrapreneuring Pinchot, G. & Pellman, R. (1999): Intrapreneuring in Action Zhu et al. (2014): Innovative behavior types and their influence on individual crowdsourcing performances

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