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Strategic Planning Is for Futurists

Futurist Thinking-SF
January 09, 2017

Today's featured article on, "A Guide to Strategic Planning Environmental Analysis," encourages captive managers and board members to participate in an environmental analysis as part of their tactical and strategic planning.  The article describes how this type of analysis can serve as the foundation for scenario planning, a key element in long-range or generative thinking. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal reinforces the importance of this skill set being necessary.

"Think Like a Futurist To Be Prepared for the Totally Unexpected," by Christopher Mims,1 provides some basic background in how futurists work. Mr. Mims writes, "Predicting the future, it turns out, isn't what futurists do. And in a funny way, that's what makes their work so vital. Many futurists are convinced that, now more than ever, everyone needs to start thinking the way they do.

"What futurists actually do is facilitate as groups of people work through a highly structured, sometimes months-long process of coming up with as many hypothetical futures as they can, in order to prepare for more or less anything."

While an environmental analysis does not need to be a months-long process, it involves the same type of hypothesizing and sorting that futurists help facilitate. The article also highlights several important aspects of what futuring entails. First, this is more of an art than a science. However, futurists do try to make their work quantifiable and engage in a rigorous self-analysis of their work looking for weaknesses. Most major corporations already engage in this type of scenario planning and there is growing acknowledgment of the need at the smaller end of the spectrum. To explore this concept further, see Scott Smith's educational resource on futuring.

1Wall Street Journal Online Edition, January 2, 2017.


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