Three little piggies of foresight

Once upon a time there were three little piggies of foresight. They jumped around carefree in the present operational environment and all decided to create some futures knowledge. The first pig was a pop futurist and made bold predictions made in shining glass that veiled his assumptions. He promoted them all around the business ecosystems and got everyone excited. However, also the big bad wolf of evaluation and impact heard about these predictions decided to go and see the pop futurist pig. Once he saw the shining glass predictions, he huffed and he puffed and pointed out flaws in the assumptions about human behaviour and initial conditions and shattered the predictions to million pieces. The pop futurist pig fled to new domains.

Three little piggies
Three little piggies of foresight. Illustration by Tomi Dufva

Meanwhile, the second pig, a strategic foresight pig had been busy imagining alternative scenarios. He had made images of beautiful futures, of worst-case rainy day futures, of extraordinary strange futures – a whole field full of different images of futures dangling from the clouds. When the strategic pig saw the big bad wolf he hid behind his scenarios. The wolf realised that huffing and puffing at the scenarios was of no use as they floated and shifted whenever he tried to apply them to present practices. Instead, the big bad wolf huffed and puffed to the clouds and questioned the usefulness of the scenarios to decision makers. The strategic pig squealed about the importance of being aware of alternatives while the scenarios smashed to the ground around him. The wolf walked laughing away.

The third pig had a practice based systems view to foresight. He had been following what the other pigs were doing and had drawn a map of concepts used when talking about futures. He had noted how the emphasis and linkages between different concepts had changed during the goings-on of his fellow pigs. When the big bad wolf came and started huffing and puffing, the pig reframed the huffing and puffing as part of the discourse around futures. The wolf and the systems view pig entered a fierce debate about the meaning of futures knowledge and its connection to decision making. Using his systems view the pig was able to demonstrate that while the scenarios of the strategic pig were not directly connected to decision making, and the predictions of the pop futurist pig were too narrow and easily falsifiable, they were important in shaping the way futures are imagined and discussed, both explicitly and between the lines. What was needed was continuous flow of futures imagination and related action to keep the network of futures images alive and present. Together the three little piggies and the big bad wolf founded a consulting think tank aiming to promote a systems view to foresight. And they all lived happily into the futures.