Welcome to The Foresight Guide. We want this text to be the best introduction in the world to general futures thinking and professional foresight practice. We hope the Guide, in all its forms, becomes a global resource for the future-curious, and a supplementary text in strategic thinking classes around the world in coming years.. We hope you come to view the Guide as a collection of increasingly useful ideas, models, methods, and theories on future thinking and foresight, though you may disagree with it in parts, and many parts are surely incorrect.
In 2017, a condensed version will be produced as a paper book and ebook at Amazon.com. We’ll also make the Guide available online and in print in multiple languages. We’ll focus first on the six official languages of the United Nations, Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.
The Guide is produced by Foresight University (4U) and the Foresight Education and Research Network (FERN). It is permanently free online in blog form at ForesightGuide.com, with every page commentable by you, our readers, for whom it is written. We hope to start many productive conversations with you in those comments, to improve this work. It will eventually grow even bigger, with a lot more studies, data, and exercises, and become a multiauthor work. The fullest version, with all its comments, will always be this blog/wiki form of the book.
The Guide introduces futures thinking and foresight practice from an acceleration-aware, evo devo, and evidence-based perspective. Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock, 1970/1984, is perhaps the most notable 20th century foresight work which took this perpective. Ray Kurzweil’s The Age of Spiritual Machines, 1999, appearing in the last year of what is called “the American century,” of scientific, technological, economic, and social progress, is also particularly noteworthy, as it was the first to convince many of us of the special importance of information technology to our future. Like other Big Picture books, including Stephen Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature, 2012, we hope the Guide improves our readers’ views on the world and their place and purpose in it. We seek to stand on the broad shoulders of works like these, as well as many other inspiring texts and thinkers that we will mention in the pages within.
Finally, we hope the Guide will be increasingly shaped by you, our reading audience, for whom it was written. You can post your courteous and constructive feedback publicly to every section of the online version, while you are reading it. Noncourteous feedback will be read as well, though it will likely not be posted publicly. Thank you in advance for your feedback, whatever it may be. Your thoughts, feelings, criticism, and advice can help us move the Guide closer to our vision for it every day.
What is that vision again? We see an amazing world around us, one just now waking up to its incredible exponential promise. By committing to help each other improve our foresight as best we can, and using collaborative platforms like this Guide and many others, we are building far better futures for ourselves, our teams, and our children, day by day. Working together we can see farther, work better, and live more fully than ever before.
What is Foresight U?
Foresight University (4U) is an acceleration-aware learning and development community, run by academically-trained foresight professionals, entrepreneurs, technologists, and creatives. We offer online courses and in-person residencies in strategic foresight and entrepreneurship (4U), are building two platforms for the global community of future thinkers and idea-generators (Futurepedia, Futureworthy), and produce retreats and events (Fusions, Foresight Summits), and media (our Accelerating Times newsletter, this Guide) for the global foresight community.
If you are a foresight speaker, student, creative, innovator, entrepreneur, forecaster, scholar, consultant, or foresight leader in your organization, please join us. The world is waking up to its incredible exponential promise, and discovering and sharing best practices in universal, personal, global, and organizational foresight, or UPGO foresight. Working together we can see farther, work better, and live more—enjoy life more, be healthier, and live longer—than ever before.
What is FERN?
FERN is a free, nonprofit online network for people interested in foresight education and practice. We work to promote an understanding of foresight by running projects and connecting our community members to foresight opportunities worldwide. Find out more at FERNweb.org, our organizational site, and GlobalForesight.org. Global Foresight is the web’s largest community-editable directory of foresight resources and programs. FERN is a bridge into the foresight community. We connect people who are new to foresight with foresight experts to provide resources, lists of academic programs, and information about how to get started with foresight. FERN and Global Foresight are run by our nonprofit Foresight Foundation (previously, Acceleration Studies Foundation), which promotes foresight leadership and culture in an accelerating world.
FERN seeks to support students, alums, and faculty of the existing foresight educational programs globally, along with self-taught foresight professionals working in organizations worldwide. We want to expand the availability of courses, certificate programs, and masters and doctoral degrees in foresight, help foresight graduates launch great foresight careers and aid foresight’s further expansion into the corporate and political worlds. Our fantastic volunteers (you too?) work together to support foresight development, careers, and the understanding of great foresight tools, to help grow our important field, to learn from each other, and to have fun. If you are working on a foresight project or are looking to expand your network, FERN is a great resource for you.
As a coming FERN initiative we will also be conducting a Foresight Awareness Campaign, to highlight the training and practice of foresight at select universities, businesses, and organizations worldwide. If you’d like to work with us on that, just let us know at www.fernweb.org.
What is The Foresight Guide?
The Foresight Guide (TFG) is 4U’s first publication. It teaches readers how to be leaders in anticipating, creating, and managing the future. Good foresight skills bring major benefits to yourself, your family, your company, and the planet. Using foresight to improve anticipation, innovation, management, strategy, planning, and sustainability is key to surviving and thriving in the modern world.
This book seeks primarily to help grow foresight practice generally, and secondarily to aid the careers of foresight practitioners, those who are paid, at least in part, to help others look to and analyze the future. This includes all those who have degrees from one of the twenty-three MS and PhD programs in foresight around the world, those who have taken a multi-week or multi-day foresight certificate program, those who have learned foresight methods in other coursework or training, and those who entirely self-taught and are seeking greater success in foresight practice independently or in their organizations. It can be used in any course that includes strategy, decisionmaking and foresight, and it will be one core text in our Foresight University courses and certificates in strategic foresight and entrepreneurship, coming in 2017.
A Note on Format and Style
We include links to useful web resources throughout the guide. For that reason, the electronic version may be most useful for one-click exploration of unfamiliar concepts mentioned in the book. A paper version is also available for those who love the easy annotatability and tangibility of physical books. Link rot may occur with some of these links, so be aware you may have to search out new links on occasion.
The Guide is written in a conversational tone. We also make calls to action for projects or activities that new or veteran foresight leaders like you might do, both to advance your own career and the profession. The Guide also has a non-neutral point of view, usually that of its primary author, the futurist John Smart. Please feel free to disagree with this authorial bias and skim past it as you like, and please let John know when you disagree, either by posting a public comment or emailing privately to firstname.lastname@example.org, so we can improve future editions.
Thank you for reading The Foresight Guide. We hope you’ll join us in leading the future of foresight!
CEO, Foresight University, www.foresightguide.com
Executive Director, Foresight Education and Research Network, www.fernweb.org