Individuals, organisations and business are concerned with the uncertain future. Therefore, in today's volatile times, the field of futures thinking is more critical than ever before. So what exactly is futures thinking and what does it entail?
Futures thinking is concerned with decision making. It entails developing and fostering the ability to make decisions that are good when they are made and remain so in the long run. Futures thinking and futures research are the systematic exploration of possible and desirable futures to improve decisions and the endeavours to realise them. Futures thinking is rooted in the understanding that knowledge of the future is not possible. However, knowledge of the factors that shape the future are known and they consequently provide a palette of possible future outcomes, states or scenarios.
Futures thinking is inextricably linked to strategic planning and strategic management and can therefore assist to illuminate the ways in which policy, strategies and actions can promote desirable futures and help prevent those we consider undesirable.
The IFR supports the view of authors such as MacMillan and Tampoe (2000) who regard strategic management as envisioning and realising the future. It is the IFR's longstanding philosophy that the future can be measured and made. Hence, futures thinking and strategy should provide an idea of the future and generate the action required to realise that idea. Therefore, implementation is part of and not separate from futures thinking and strategy.