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Alien Eyes (2.2)

Emerging Wicked Weak Signals

There is a complex new world of guiding narratives. Stories have the power to limit us from seeing transformative opportunities. The most effective method at a futurist’s disposal for seizing the VUCA environment for all its disruptive potential is environmental scanning.

In this issue, we discuss why scanning helps broaden our thinking and tear down the mental barriers that prevent us from imagining new opportunities. Of course, this wouldn’t be REFRAME Magazine if we didn’t rethink a Wicked Problem into a Wicked Opportunity along the way.


Macro Environment

Foresight efforts begin in the broad environment, where drivers of change first emerge. Exploring trends and weak signals in the macro environment ensures that we do not become insulated in our subject-matter expertise.

We can think of scanning at this level like thinking like an extraterrestrial. How would an alien perceive the Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental, and Political (STEEP) issues that define reality today? They would likely weave trends together as an interconnected web, systematically impacting one another.

Thinking in this way allows us to shed our educated incapacity that precludes us from leveraging the macro environment to its complex advantages.

Meta Environment

The meta environment includes competitors, customers, employees, and other key stakeholders. Horizon scanning in Strategic Foresight does not initially focus on the competitive intelligence or consumer insights space, but it does not ignore it. Most organizations already have processes and teams in place to capture consumer insights and conduct competitive analysis.

Environmental scanning serves as a bridge to the future, whereas competitive intelligence benchmarks the here and now. Consumer insights tell us about how people behave in the present, whereas environmental scanning looks for signals as to how they will behave in the future. In fact, many organizations begin their futures journeys by layering Strategic Foresight onto their existing insight efforts.

Micro Environment

The micro environment can represent your organization or a specific focal issue you are exploring. Scanning across the broad macro environment can feel overwhelming, and the identification of a focal issue can help curtail this potential data overload.

A focal issue is a decision or question that is critical to the future of your organization right now. Focal issue definition is an important part of starting a foresight process. For practical application of a focal issue in a foresight project, participate in our Foundations in Natural Foresight®

Content one

Listen to this week’s podcast to explore Wicked Weak Signals that cover the spectrum of this month’s issue: Alien Invasion to Alien Eyes. Yvette and Frank end by answering one Point of Impact question in the context of one STEEP driver.

Download the transcript here.

Content two

We bookmarked the scan hits discussed in the podcast (along with other topical weak signals) in this Diigo Outline. Use this research to kick-off conversations about the Wicked Problem and Wicked Opportunity in your own organization!

The Outline includes hyperlinked articles that can be interpreted as weak signals for either Wicked Problem or Wicked opportunity futures. Each article has been scanned using futurist environmental scanning practices. Click an article to open it in a new tab.

Happy Scanning!

This Diigo Outline can kick-start environmental scanning in your organization.