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The foresight process

The foresight process

A new book is a practical process guide on how to visualise the future

READING The technique of visualising the future, say, 10 years out, and then working out how to get there is hardly new. But what Nick Marsh, Mike McAllum and Dominique Purcell offer in Strategic Foresight: The Power Of Standing In The Future is a practical process guide on how to undertake what their case studies suggest is an increasingly important methodology for organisations to succeed in the post-industrial era.McAllum, a New Zealander, is managing director and founder of Global Foresight Network. Marsh, who spent 20 years working in New Zealand, is the global network director of international consultancy Next Corporation. They have linked with Purcell, who is the director of Visioware, which facilitates foresight and innovation outcomes, to produce a lucidly written, up-to-date — the excesses of Enron are reviewed, for example — review of the foresight process.McAllum and Marsh worked together in the 1990s at the Foresight Institute of New Zealand and had much to do with the government’s 1997-2000 Foresight Project, which focused on a major policy review of expenditure on all publicly funded research.The book is designed to assist CEOs, policy and strategy managers, HR and training managers, change consultants and those who want to learn about managing foresightful change in their organisations. Foresight is about integrating strategic planning, future studies and organisational development in the Knowledge Age. Of necessity, it encompasses rapidly changing societal mores: ageing populations, the dramatically different role of women, increasing focus on a “green” world.The latter point is illustrated by the adoption of triple bottom-line (TBL) accounting methods by several multinationals. TBL accounts for environmental effects of economic policies and social development. It will probably become mainstream, the authors suggest.They note also the performance of the Dow Jones Sustainability Global Index, launched in 1999 to create a global investment fund which includes only the top 10% of performers in sustainable value creation — companies analytically assessed to be managing their assets sustainably. Research shows that non-financial performance accounts for 35% of institutional investors’ valuation. That’s food for thought.The authors have delivered a worthwhile addition to the plethora of management books, one that has applicability on a broader stage, given its down-to-earth approach. In 300 pages, the word “paradigm” appears only twice. Strategic foresight: The power of standing in the future, by Nick Marsh, Mike McAllum, Dominique Purcell. Published by Crown Content. $39.50.

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