From the Archives...

Forecasting

[The Manual, page 202, 1983]
An extract from the Manual that was originally published by Taylor Management Centers in Boulder, Colorado.

Forecasting is the process of identifying a larger future context within which you, your organization, your opportunities and problems exist. Effective planning and decision making must take into account probable future conditions which affect your options so that you can design in anticipation of them.

Forecasting takes many forms. Professional futurists often develop sophisticated technical, mathematical, and computerized forecasts. Yet, conceptual forecasting can be developed by individuals and groups without sophisticated knowledge or equipment.

Conceptual futures forecasting demands question asking. For example:

  • If this is happening now, what are the possible consequences?
  • For this to come about, what needs to happen when?
  • For this to come about in ____ years, what should be happening today and where should I look for these trends?
  • What do we know about the life-span of various configurations such as corporations, universities, governments, social systems, etc.?

The art of comprehensive forecasting includes synergy. The principle of synergy states that the behavior of whole systems is unpredicted by the behavior of the parts. This premise leads to a corollary; if you know a system you can predict the existence of unknown parts and then go looking for them. A conceptual, cybernetic understanding of change will provide you with a method to find systematic discoveries of new options before they are "seen" by the experts.

Two basic methods, scenario building and the Delphi technique, are useful in formulating long range comprehensive forecasts. Good documentation and data management systems (IDDS) bring precision to forecasting. Inspectional reading is a tool for gathering quality documentation and data.

 

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