Some comments on Inayatullah’s new book ‘What Works: Case Studies in the Practice of Foresight’

Sohail Inayatullah recently published a new book which has the bold title What Works: Case Studies in the Practice of Foresight. The book provides an overview of Inayatullah’s approach to futures studies (the “six pillars” approach) but the core of the book is nine case studies, three chapters on methodological innovations, and an effort to …

Read More

Rethinking the received wisdom on ‘foresight’ practices

Early in my PhD studies I reviewed the literature on so-called ‘foresight’ practices such as on scenario-building, scenario-based planning, and techno-economic modelling. What came through clearly is that there is a dominant set of ideas about these practices. These ideas can be termed the received wisdom. These ideas include that foresight methods and practices are …

Read More

Re-thinking why people and groups participate in ‘foresight’ exercises – some initial thoughts

A few core purposes are typically emphasised in the literature on foresight exercises and methods, such as: improving decision-making under uncertainty and coping better with uncertainty; anticipating opportunities and threats, ideally before others do; and identifying a wider range of options and opportunities. Sometimes other desired benefits are discussed such as: catalysing action and/or change; …

Read More

The capacity for futures work to help address “super wicked” (or just “wicked”) problems

Over the last week or so I’ve come to realise a lot of my reading and thinking has an implicit focus, which I ought to make much more explicit. That is: the capacity of futures work (or “applied foresight” or “futures research” as many folk call it) to help us to more effectively address complex …

Read More

Economic forecasts and environmental problems

Great question posed by Ross Gittins (economics editor of the Sydney Morning Herald): “It makes all the sense in the world for economists to integrate the environment and the economy when thinking about what the future holds. So why don’t they?” Some thought-provoking responses to this question also in his concise critique of the ‘Australia …

Read More

Priorities for developing sustainability-oriented foresight

A number of priorities – and associated opportunities – for sustainability-oriented foresight need to be better understood and addressed. Each also requires successfully addressing related barriers and challenges. The following are four areas where ‘foresight methods’ can assist: 1) Enabling greater ‘anticipatory learning’. The opposite of anticipatory learning is ‘learning-by-shock’ (see this paper which defines …

Read More