Strategic Foresight is a process and a methodology of analysis. It seeks to anticipate the future, and to reduce the potential for surprise in an actionable way. It is crucial for preparedness.
Strategic Foresight and Warning is an organized and systematic process to reduce uncertainty regarding the future that aims at allowing policy-makers and decision-makers to take decisions with sufficient lead time to see those decisions implemented at best.
It is now very similar to risk management.
SF&W analysis is an analysis that will use all valid methodologies to develop an understanding, grounded in reality, of the future, useful to decision-makers and policy-makers for carrying out their mission. The objective is to avoid surprise, and thus to be prepared.
Foresight analysis is an analysis that seeks to anticipate the future.
Stricto sensu, in the English-speaking world, “foresight” tends to be used for issues that are technical, for R&D, and for technical innovation. It is a part of the larger strategic foresight family of anticipatory activities.
In French, “foresight”, which is translated by “prospective”, corresponds to the scientific activity concerned with the anticipation of the future. It relies on various methodologies and emphasises causality.
Forecasting refers to the use of quantitative techniques, notably statistics, to anticipate the future.
Foresight is crucial to avoid surprises, as these may have catastrophic impacts on objectives. Foresight allows us to anticipate threats and dangers. As a result we can take timely adequate actions to mitigate the impact of these dangers. Foresight is the only tool that allows for preparedness, especially when uncertainty abounds. Foresight, finally, allows turning uncertainty and the future into opportunities. Foresight is crucial for survival and for success.
Risk management is the management of “The effect of uncertainty on objectives”, according to the definition of the International Standard Organisation (ISO 31000:2018). It notably includes the steps of contextualising the risk, assessing the risk and treating the risk.
Horizon scanning is the same as strategic foresight, and similar to risk management. It is a process to reduce uncertainty regarding the future for decision-makers and policy-makers. It is a label that is especially used in the U.K., as well as in Singapore.
Red team analysis, red teaming or red teaming activity was used initially in the U.S. Army to simulate the activity of opponents in war-gaming and strategic simulations
By extension, Red Team Analysis aims at promoting a strategic foresight analysis grounded in science that struggles against our many cognitive, normative and emotional biases through various tools and methodologies, including not being limited by “politically correct” approaches.
Interestingly in the Soviet Union, during the Cold War, similar activities were called Blue or Green Team activity.
Political risks are all events that are linked to the political system of a country and may impact the objectives of an actor notably through uncertainty and change.
Most consultancy and experts take a narrow approach to political risks and focus exclusively on elections, political parties, elite politics and legal system. This is a very partial approach as much is missed, thus increasing the risks for the actors. Check our video explaining in detail what is political risk.
Geopolitical risks is a term used to cover all risks related to the impact of international politics and international relations on the objectives of actors, notably through change and uncertainty. For example, we have risks related to interstate wars, diplomatic raws, sanctions, as well as competition for international influence, competition for power among international actors. More broadly, from the point of view of an actor, every event external to the society (country) of this actor can be seen as potentially generating a “geopolitical” or external risk. Furthermore, internal or domestic events may also potentially generate events which are external and then, in turn, create a “geopolitical” risk for a country.
Global risks, such as those linked to pandemic and epidemic, energy security, water security, climate change etc. can be seen as having geopolitical dimensions.