Done right, foresight is not a disconnected spectacle but a convenient tool for future-proofing an idea, claims Saara Järvinen, Senior Insight Strategist at Kuudes.
Foresight. Looking into a crystal ball. Exciting future trends. Mysterious weak signals. Intimidating, isn’t it? Not very practical, maybe? Foresight might feel like a terribly difficult thing that only vaguely connects with what we do in real life. It can easily become a disconnected spectacle that might lift spirits but does not actually influence decision-making or our daily activities.
Of course, foresight is about mapping and envisioning large-scale changes, but it is also simply user insight in the future tense. It’s about making sense of what people want when they are put in different situations and times. When we profoundly understand our target groups’ values and needs and have a perspective on the changes in these in the past, we can make educated guesses about the future.
Empathy is the most important tool for foresight. We use it to ask what kind of an effect can change have on our target groups. How do innovative technologies, societal shifts, and new ways of operating affect humans? What dreams could come true? What new needs arise? What are the effects in the worst case, in gloomy dystopias? What kind of future do our customers not want to see? What can we do to stop unwanted shifts? How can we problem-solve the future?
Keep these five tips in mind when bringing foresight into your business development processes
- Foresight is for everyone. Know that foresight is the most fruitful when working with it in multi-disciplinary teams. Having a good foresight partner can be valuable, as they will guide you through the process and inspire and guarantee tangible results.
- Narrow down your focus. Like with user insight in general, the results come out best when we study specific target groups and have a clear and defined research question.
- Foresight is nothing radical. It can be a convenient, smart technique for future-proofing an idea. You can use it as a precise tool in, for example, a product development process or when bringing complex cross-disciplinary teams on the same page when making strategic choices.
- Having a local viewpoint is crucial as it brings foresight closer to real-life challenges. Organizations need to understand how trends affect their local contexts. Our foresight process is based on profound local insight that connects to global shifts and phenomena.
- Most importantly, foresight will help us define the future we want to be a part of building. It is about choosing our mission and patiently making the future happen.