A recent passion that continues to grow in my association management career is determining the most efficient method of conveying the value associated with creating a “culture of foresight” within association Boards, Memberships, and even the privately held member businesses. In order to create this culture, it is first important to understand the term foresight as it relates to trends-watching.
As an active member of the ASAE Research Committee, (ASAE is the professional society for association professionals), I was invited to attend a full day “Foresight 101” program in Washington DC. The program was delivered by two true futurists. The goal of the session was to explain to the ASAE Learning Team the basics of the foresight process and discuss ideas on how to incorporate foresight into existing educational opportunities.
A few critical takeaways from the “Foresight 101” session include:
- One engages in forecasting/futures work to prevent something from happening.
- Foresight is about looking wider, longer, and deeper.
- Looking deeper was described as:
- Lack of information – what we don’t know
- What we think we know – unexamined assumptions
- What we believe we know – change drivers
- Foresight is about understanding change.
- Time horizons that we discussed:
- 1st horizon (next 1-3 years) – current issues
- 2nd horizon (next 3-5 years) – emerging issues
- 3rd horizon (5+ years) – weak signals
- Futurist don’t make things up, the ideas are based on weak signals.
- Foresight takes work and time!
- You can “influence” the future. Some changes happens to us. There are also some changes that we can create.
A goal of the ASAE Foresight project is to create a forum for volunteer leaders, association members, and association staff to gain confidence and comfort in discussing weak signals and the potential opportunities and threats they may present.
As a 35-year career association professional, I have experienced lots of changes. The goal of engaging and sharing information about the ASAE Foresight project is to create a culture where talking about weak signals becomes a routine discussion topic, resulting in successful associations and businesses that may operate in a different fashion and serve a different type of member/customer but they will be SUCCESSFUL!
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