IAF uses a variety of methods to help organizations understand the future and create the futures they prefer. These include:
The first step in thinking about the future is to scan the external environment to identify trends. A trend is a pattern of change over time in areas that are important for the observer. Some of these trends will be well known to an organization, while others may not yet be on the organization's "radar screen." By identifying existing trends and emerging developments, an environmental scan sets the stage for thinking about future challenges and opportunities. The scan helps in identifying "weak signals" that might otherwise go unnoticed by an organization. Identifying weak signals early can be a powerful source of competitive advantage for a company or suggest an emerging opportunity to create a better future.
Forecasts provide specific estimations of a specific topic in the future. Typically, IAF will create forecasts using the drivers and key forces identified and explored in the environmental scan. Forecasts are important in providing planning assumptions and can help determine future courses of action and set goals for the organization. In many cases, IAF will provide a set of forecasts to bound the uncertainty associated with that driver. The insights that come from bounding this uncertainty often prove more useful than a single-point prediction of a future state.
IAF helps organizations develop scenarios using its unique "aspirational futures" approach, which describes futures in three different zones:
These scenarios provide a context for identifying strategies that would work in each scenario, as well as robust strategies that would be effective in all of the scenarios.
While scenarios describe what might happen, vision addresses what we want to create. Our vision applies our values to describe a preferred future. Visions are most powerful when they reflect our deeper values and purpose. Collins and Porras point out in their book, Built to Last, that organizations that clearly link their values to their vision in ways that motivate their workers outperform their competitors. IAF uses a variety of techniques to identify the individual and shared aspirations of an organization's members, and to capture them in a vision statement that motivates future effort.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
The MBTI is a personality indicator designed to identify the psychological preferences of individuals. Individuals process information in differing ways and are more comfortable with certain types of thinking than others. These preferences will affect how people...The MBTI sorts these preferences into four opposite pairs with a resulting sixteen possible combinations. IAF often uses MBTI in our futures processes to understand how different participants and stakeholders may engage the future in different ways. Understanding these differences can help in designing forecasts, scenarios, visions, audacious goals strategic plans that are most likely to lead to an organization’s preferred future.