Top Introductory Foresight Books – A Starter List
Below are our current most-recommended reads for foresight practitioners near the beginnings of their careers, or seeking to renew them. A much longer list of professional foresight books follows on the next page. Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know. If you will be skimming any of these excellent books in coming weeks, you may benefit from our active reading tips in Chapter 10 (Methods). Enjoy!
- Bold, Diamandis & Kotler (2015) A global, acceleration-aware, innovation and entrepreneurial approach to foresight. Great for visioning, goalsetting, and motivation.
- Learning from the Future: Competitive Foresight Scenarios, Fahey & Randall (1998) Still the best guide to using scenarios to reduce uncertainty, find opportunities and manage risk. An inspiring blend of managing the unpredictable (evo) and uncovering the predictable (devo).
- Future Savvy: Quality in Foresight, Adam Gordon (2008) Good intro to trend identification, forecasting. Also very helpful for recognizing and mitigating bias.
- Infinite Progress: How Tech Ends Ignorance, Disease, Poverty, and War, Byron Reese (2013) How science and technology acceleration drives progress. Even if you disagree, you should know the arguments, well-summarized in this book. They will be increasingly important every year forward for the rest of your career.
- Predictive Analytics, Eric Siegel (2013) Great overview of a new foresight frontier: data mining, probabilistic prediction, and machine learning.
- Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction, Philip E. Tetlock and Dan Gardner (2015) A tour-de-force intro to how cognitively diverse teams, using evidence from a variety of sources, thinking probabilistically, keeping score, and learning from error, can radically improve our ability to predict.
- The Fortune Sellers: The Big Business of Buying & Selling Predictions, William Sherden (1999) Sherden holds an indefensible perspective that many aspects of our future are not increasingly predictable. But there is a high threshold for doing good prediction, and many ways to fail, oversell, and overclaim. Sherden’s work highlights those, and is a great complement to Superforecasting.
- The Inevitable: Understanding the Twelve Technological Forces that Will Shape Our Future, Kevin Kelly (2016) A great guide to technological megatrends that will shape our future for the next twenty years, from a master big picture thinker. I predict megatrend two, cognifying, is more central and important to our future than even Kelly presently acknowledges.
- The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet, Ramez Naam (2013) A sober account of the environmental cost of economic growth to date, and an intro to the dematerialized growth of the coming information age. We’ve barely begun to realize how different the future will be.
- The Rough Guide to the Future, Jon Turney (2010) Great popular intro to the long history and practice of foresight. Not very universal development-aware, yet.
- The Second Machine Age, Brynjolfsson and McAfee (2014) Great intro to accelerating technical productivity, some social and political implications of that productivity, and why most economists still don’t know how to model our exponential future.
- The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail, But Some Don’t, Nate Silver (2012) Conversational intro to the emerging practice of statistical foresight. One way our field will be legitimated.
- The Technological Singularity, Murry Shanahan, 2015 Brief, easy intro to the single most important outcome of accelerating change: human-surpassing machine intelligences will keep emerging, at an ever faster pace, over the remainder of the 21st century. In the long run, that is very highly likely to be good, in my view. But unless we cultivate foresight, we can take some pretty bad paths to a much more intelligent and antifragile future. The choice is ours.
- Think Like a Futurist, Cecily Sommers (2012) Inspiring and very accessible intro to the strategic benefits and thinking processes of foresight.
- Thinking about the Future: Guidelines for Strategic Foresight, Bishop and Hines (2007) Excellent overview of six key strategic foresight activities, with concise practitioner examples.