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Continuous Foresight because the Future is not Linear

by Marty Resnick  |  August 7, 2019  |  Comments Off on Continuous Foresight because the Future is not Linear

Organizations need to respond proactively and holistically respond to disruptive forces by identifying and analyzing the execution of change toward desired business vision and outcomes. This has been a key tenet of an Enterprise Architecture (EA) discipline, as part of business-outcome driven EA.  But what does that really mean for EA and the rest of the organization? Who’s responsibility is it really to make sure this is happening, and how do organizations actually accomplish this?

Methodologies used to drive innovation, select emerging technologies, enable trendspotting and futurism have existed for years. Organizations often struggle to identify the connective tissue to apply these frameworks in a holistic and intentional way. Without a cohesive approach, organizations will treat the future as linear by primarily focusing on technology, emerging or otherwise resulting in an inaccurate or incomplete assessment of future opportunities.

Continuous Foresight is about business future-state capabilities, models, processes, innovation, culture, diversity, design, all of which may be supported by the use of emerging technologies.  Starting with the business outcomes first (outside change – change we create ourselves) and influenced, and in many cases forced by, disruptions (inside change – a change that is happening to us)  we use a  perpetual, ongoing, and intentional process. At its core, Continuous Foresight is a discipline organization perpetually use to gather, process, and take action on information about their future business models and operating environments

Finally, organizations must adapt to thrive in a word of digital transformation. They must bridge the gap between strategy and execution and accept there are multiple paths and possibilities that the future may bring. Multiple obstacles and opportunities that the organization will need to plan for. James McGovern, in the keynote at the EA Summit said it best, “strategy, not technology is the future state of EA”. I would actually build on that quote to say, “Strategy and Continuous Foresight, in response to disruptive forces (technology or otherwise), is the future state of a successfully digitally transformed organization”.

Continuous Foresight provides a framework to scout, synthesize, advocate and prepare (as described in the Toolkit: How to Build an Emerging Technology Radar and pictured below) to compile a list of plausible futures and strategies, to anticipate and embrace change, and manage uncertainty and ambiguity, to invent the future of the organization.

We live in VUCA times (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) and we need to move from the “tyranny of the possible” to the “art of the possible”. Continuous Foresight provides the framework to navigate the multiple paths of the future.


Several of my colleagues and I will be investigating this topic over the course of the next several months and appreciate your thoughts in helping us shape our published research. Please do not hesitate to leave a comment to share with others.

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Category: continuous-foresight  emerging-tech  trendspotting  

Marty Resnick
Sr Director Analyst
3 years at Gartner
20 years IT Industry

Marty Resnick is a Research Director on Gartner's Enterprise Architecture and Technology Innovation team based in Atlanta, GA (USA). Mr. Resnick's primary focus is on the role of the Enterprise Architect in the selection, recommendation and implementation of emerging technologies (e.g. virtual reality and augmented reality), as well as, the use of methodologies such as Agile and Design Thinking for use in ideation, innovation and achieving business outcomes. Read Full Bio

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