Strategic foresight is the practice of creating a functional view of the future, or future events and possibilities, in such a way as to take full advantage of opportunities, as well as to prepare for any possible adversity. The idea of strategic foresight arose from the idea that while the future is not predictable, it is also not predetermined, and can be influenced in a positive way by actions we take in the present. This mode of thinking is often used in the context of business, and encourages those making business decisions to structure their plans based on future opportunities rather than past events.
Those who employ strategic foresight in business may be able to forecast and detect adverse market conditions, as well as any need there may be to analyze new markets or new potential products. For most business organizations, the future is something like a large blind spot. They operate based on assumptions and principles accepted in the past, and only modify their view based on new information from the present, like economic data or legislation. While this is a seemingly natural and understandable way of looking at the business world, and is very common, it essentially keeps the mind focused on the past.
One of the assumptions of a worldview that includes strategic foresight is that the future need not be abstract or mysterious. There are real challenges and dangers that will have to be faced. Not only that, but there may also be great opportunities on the horizon, waiting to be taken advantage of. Both challenges and opportunities, and the patterns in which they occur, are highly important and relevant to everything that a business does, even in the near term. If the future events that are visible are overlooked, then it is unlikely they will lead to ideal outcomes when the future becomes the present.
Though the mindset of strategic foresight can be a powerful tool, no one can accurately predict all future events. Even though this is the case, those businesses and leaders who employ strategic foresight will find themselves more prepared for events as they arise. They will likely be better equipped to handle opportunity and adversity compared to their competition, and this will reduce uncertainly and enhance confidence and success again and again. Strategic foresight will lead a person to have a proactive stance, rather than a reactive one, where he can anticipate events, rather than being caught unprepared.