Toward a Foresight Competency Model

From 2014 to 2016, I was part of a global team of 23 foresight professionals who worked on a “Foresight Competency Model,” that mapped the underlying competencies of futurists. See link to 2017: Hines, A., Gary, J., Daheim, C., & van der Lann, L. (2017, September). Building Foresight Capacity: Toward a Foresight Competency Model. World Futures Review, 9(3), 123-141.

Abstract: This article introduces the Foresight Competency Model, which addresses the basic question of what one ought to be able to do as a professional futurist. It describes how other fields have used competency models to define what their professionals do, documents how the Association of Professional Futurists (APF) developed this model, explains the interrelated features of the model, and suggests ways that organizations can use the model to enhance the foresight capacity of their talent.

Foresight Competency Model

How competent are you in anticipating and shaping the future? How competent are you in helping teams do the same, as a manager or a consultant? Nearly three decades ago the futures field began to ask itself these questions related to individual, organizational, social, and national foresight (Slaughter 1990, 1998). After a decade of downsizing and reengineering, others began to ask if business was ready to compete for the future. If so, then it would need to focus on its core competence (Hamel & Prahalad 1994, Prahalad & Hamel 1990). This came to be known as a resource-based view, or how well a firm combines its internal resources to create a sustainable advantage (Barney 1991, 1997). The most important resource that any organization has to create the future is its intangible assets – its human capital. As well, ICT-supported foresight, from big data to complex modeling, is effective to the degree it is applied by competent practitioners (Keller & von der Gracht 2014). Following this premise, some argue that foresight itself is a core competence to manage the future in our knowledge economy (Major et al. 2001, Tsoukas & Shepherd 2004).

In this sea of competence thinking, futurists began to consider if they were building the foresight capacity of leadership within the public and private sector. Some began to refine “managerial foresight” or “foresight style” instruments (Amsteus 2008, 2011, Gary 2009, van der Laan & Erwee 2013); others documented “corporate foresight” practices (Daheim & Uerz 2008); while still others developed organizational foresight maturity models (Grim 2009, Rohrbeck 2011). By 2012, many applied-futures consultancies had moved beyond providing trends to government or business to building foresight capacity among client teams through participatory and experiential futures (Candy 2010, Miller 2008, Raford 2010).

In this context where empowering foresight capacity has been established, the Association of Professional Futurists (APF) released a “Foresight Competency Model” (Hines 2016). The model is a product of a task force of 23 futurists from 4 continents working on issues in professionalizing foresight that had been identified in Delphi studies and competitive industry analysis (Gary & von der Gracht 2015, Hines & Gold 2013).

Beyond stimulating further discussion among its nearly 500 members on what it takes to be a professional futurist, APF intends to use the model to shape its internal approach to career and professional development. The purpose of this multi-cluster model is to shape how futurists view their own knowledge, skills, and abilities as they serve others as professionals.

The Foresight Competency Model addresses the basic question of what one ought to capable of doing as a professional futurist. Most practicing futurists could probably tick off a list of skills, tools, methods, concepts, and processes that they would consider useful. There have also been more formal, but piecemeal efforts to describe the characteristics of futurists and what constitutes good futures work (Coates 2000, Grim 2009, Hines 2009). Various academic programs also have their perspectives on what should be taught to futurists, and have identified concepts in common (Bishop 2016). The Foresight Competency Model builds on this prior work, and recognizes its model cannot be static or fixed, but must likewise evolve along with the field it describes.

This article describes how other fields have used competency models to define what professionals do, documents how APF came to develop this model, explains the interrelated features of the model, and suggest ways that organizations can use the model to enhance their talent’s foresight capacity.

1.0 Introduction [copy above]
2.0 What is Professional Competence?
2.1 Competences and competencies
2.2 Foresight competence
2.3 Competency models
3.0 Why a Competency Model?
3.1 Approach to developing the model
3.2. Using the DOL/ETA process
4.0 Foresight Competency Model
4.1 Foundational competencies
4.2 Professional competencies
5.0 How to Use the Model?
5.1 Individual use case
5.2 Team use case
5.3 APF intended uses
6.0 What Else?

If you are a learning leader in your organization, or academic that helps working professionals lead their organization into the future, then the Foresight Competency Model should be on your horizon. It represents what competencies that foresight professionals draw upon and use to create the future for their clients. The Foresight Competency Model is visualized below, built around the orange circle of six foresight core competencies, framing, scanning, futuring, visioning, designing, and adapting. This center node is undergirded by a base of three foundational clusters: personal, academic, and workplace competencies. In turn, two professional competency clusters are above the central foresight competencies: sector and occupational roles. You are welcome to download copy from my author website.

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