Foresight, Innovation and Enterprise Modeling – A 10+ Year Journey

This draft paper, titled “Foresight, Innovation and Enterprise Modeling” (downloadable HERE), is the culmination of a decade long journey in attempting to link our evolving knowledge of emerging futures with present action, through a variety of means, innovation and enterprise development, design, activism, policy development, meditation (yes that is correct – doing absolutely nothing is a form of action;) and the like.

When I first got into futures in 2000, I was inspired by the eclecticism and range of thinking, profound, far reaching, visionary – and very much in Zia Sardar’s words I was both inspired and disturbed. And yet something was missing. I wanted a connection with our human capabilities and commitments in the present moment – what could we do today? What seeds could we plant? How do we trim the tabs, so to speak? Hence the very idea for “Action Foresight”, linking knowledge of emerging futures with empowered, intelligent and wise actions.

So I began in earnest to conceptually and practically link futures with present action. First I explored and developed ways of linking futures research with action, which emerged via the confluence of futures studies and action research / learning. I became a more committed activist and did work with the World Social Forum process and produced documentary media – my interest in Foresight Communication grew.

Another important stream was the importance of innovation, hence the idea for “Anticipatory Innovation“, and along side this futures informed enterprise development. This particular stream of my work is very dear to me, and has continued to evolve. I was fortunate to meet Adam Leggett at a birthday party for Peter Ellyard (thank you Peter) way back in 2001, and I began working on a pilot program Adam was initiating at Melbourne University called Univator. Later, from 2003-2005 I did some great research with Allan O’Connor on linking foresight and innovation, which culminated in a paper on empowering entrepreneurship and another on innovation for sustainability, and we ran a 5 day workshop for Questacon Smartmoves. All the while the thinking and practice continued to develop. In 2008 Peter Hayward invited me to write up an undergraduate unit for the school of business at Swinburne University of Technology on social enterprise, where I built in the methodology and further refined it. Most recently, 2012, I used this basic framework for the foresight methods course I taught at National University of Singapore, LKY School of Public Policy, where I developed an anticipatory policy development framework.

So it has been a long, winding and fruitful journey, and it’s not over! The paper is a “draft for comment”, and I’d like to keep the conversation open to facilitate a kind of ‘open source’ development of the methodology so anyone who adopts it can be more empowered in innovation and enterprise development that addresses the deep challenges of the 21st century.

Comments welcome here or via twitter @actionforesight