Foresight Frameworks and Tools

Part of our mission at the Future Today Institute is to develop a culture of foresight in every organization. For that reason, the Future Today Institute's research and tools are now open source and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

We have spent nearly two decades researching, modeling, testing and refining the Future Today Institute’s forecasting methodology and tools, which are used in hundreds of companies and government agencies and as part of college courses all around the world. We invite you to use them within your own organization.



The FTI Forecasting Model

Our futures forecasting methodology relies on quantitative and qualitative data, and it has seven steps. Our model alternates between flared and focused thinking.

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How To Think About Time

To effectively plan for the future, organizations need to learn how to swim in different lanes simultaneously, and to think across a spectrum of time. For any given uncertainty about the future — whether that’s risk, opportunity or growth — leaders must think strategically about tactics, strategy, vision and systems-level change.

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Identifying Key Stakeholders

Leaders and teams should work methodically to identify every possible stakeholder using proximity as a guide. When FTI works with organizations, we always begin with the following exercise.

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Assumptions vs Knowledge

Assumptions vs Knowledge, a scale we call AvK, is a simple but useful tool for checking your instinctive bias while doing futures work. It can be used any time an assertion is made to determine whether it’s based on fact or feeling. On one end of the spectrum are Assumptions (1), pure hunches that are not supported by any substantial data, and on the other is Knowledge (4), declarations made with ample evidence from multiple sources to back them up. With two intermediate steps—(limited evidence or insight but still significant uncertainty (2), and meaningful corroborating data or models but still some doubt (3)—the scale is a great way to keep sentimental bias from clouding your strategy.

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The CIPHER acronym describes six indicators for trends: Contradictions, those examples that demonstrate opposing or incongruous forces at play simultaneously, Inflections, occurrences that mark a major turning point or establish a new paradigm, Practices, emerging behaviors that are becoming more pronounced or gaining in popularity, Hacks, inventive, unintended uses for tools, technologies and systems, Extremes, instances of technologies, functions or concepts being pushed to new limits that might change the nature of their use, and Rarities, highly unlikely or unexpected events and phenomena.

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Axes of Uncertainty

Leaders often make common errors as they make strategic decisions about the future: they under-predict or over-predict change. The reason? Most of us find uncertainty uncomfortable, so we are reluctant to confront it. We can’t solve for future uncertainty, but we can prepare ourselves to think critically about signals and decisions — to understand all the dependencies we should consider that might impact the future. 

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Scenario Planning Guide and Templates

Scenarios serve different purposes and there are many ways to write them. Before you begin your scenario planning process, determine the strategic purpose of your scenario, your time horizon, the amount of data you have access to and how your work will be used by others.

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Four Laws of Tech Trends

Strategic trends share a set of conspicuous, universal features. Use this framework to separate longitudinal trends from what's simply "trendy" for the moment.

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11 Macro Sources of Disruption

Technology does not evolve on its own, in a vacuum. Even the most forward-thinking innovators are still grounded in reality, tethered to other areas of society. Trends are subjected to and shaped by external forces. Just as it’s useful to organize our thinking along a chronological path through time zones, it’s important to categorize the various dimensions of our everyday life, with technology as the primary interconnector.

In order to forecast the future of anything, you must listen for signals across these 11 macro sources of change. Download this strategic thinking framework.

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Velocity of Change: Calculation Guide

This guide helps you understand the factors that cause a trend to accelerate, stay on its present course, or to decelerate.  

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Futures States 

Use the Futures States tool to help guide your initial scenario writing and to gain internal alignment on your desired outcomes.

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