Author: Anna Sacio-Szymańska (PL)


[1] Based on: (van der Laan 2010 & 2012, Gary 2009, Dian 2009).

  1. What is foresight competence?

Foresight (or future orientation) is closely related to strategic thinking. Both concepts are analysed in the literature of leadership, change or futures studies. How much do they differ?

Strategic thinking aims at formulation of longer-term future direction and strategic choices, and as such requires from the strategic thinker a logical, structured approach. In an organisational context, it also requires the understanding of the organisation itself and the environment, in which it operates.

On the other hand, foresight is a cognitive ability to creatively envision possible futures, understand the complexity and ambiguity of systems. In an organisational context, it provides input to create future ready organisations by balancing multiple challenges and choices.

  1. Why do we need it?

The purpose of foresight in the context of strategic thinking is to expand the boundaries of perception of the strategic thinker and reveal to them a wider range of methodically created alternatives of how the future may unfold.

To put it short: foresight competence enhances strategic thinking and as such can contribute to proactive decision-making at the individual, team or organizational level.

  1. Can we learn it?

    The key question is: what are specific foresight competences that we could possibly learn? Those in the field of futures studies are aware of:
  • The Foresight Competency Model (FCM) developed by the Association of Professional Futurists where six basic, technical competences of foresight include: Framing, Scanning, Futuring, Visioning, Designing, Adapting; or
  • Futures Literacy concept advocated by the UNESCO-based Riel Miller who proposes three basic future orientation competences: Narrative capacity, Collective intelligence and Capacity to reframe.

In order to create a thorough inventory of possible foresight competences, beFORE project team launched an investigation to identify, gather, cluster, and analyse more than 1000 competences of a future-oriented individual.  The data sources were: scientific and popular press articles, books, the content of thematically relevant degrees, courses, and programmes.

As a result of our research we singled out a set of twelve competences (table below), which are needed by all to deal with future-oriented tasks. Each of these competences relates to a subset of particular foresight competences, which will ensure future orientation of the e-learning course that we aim to build.

Analysing data or information Critical
Developing objectives and strategies
Interpreting the meaning of information to others Making Decisions
and Solving Problems


  1. Online survey

In order to have the above set of competences validated by the project target groups; in November and December 2017 “the list of twelve” have been a subject of online assessment here:

The objectives of the survey have been to:

  • Let the target groups reflect about their individual professional development paths;
  • Identify the specific learning needs of university students, academics and entrepreneurs; and
  • Guide the consortium in outlining the e-learning offer that will meet the so identified needs.

We‘ll share the results of the survey in January 2018!

Further reading:

  • Dian, N (2009), ‘Foresight Styles Assessment: A Theory Based Study in Competency and Change’, Journal of Futures Studies, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 59-74.
  • Gary, JE (2009), ‘Foresight Styles Assessment: Testing a New Tool for Consulting Futurists’, Journal of Futures Studies, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 1-26.
  • Lucas van der Laan, Ronel Erwee, (2012) ‘Foresight styles assessment: a valid and reliable measure of dimensions of foresight competence?’, Foresight, Vol. 14 Issue: 5, pp.374-386,
  • Lucas van der Laan (2010), ‘Foresight competence and the strategic thinking of strategy-level leaders’, University of Southern Queensland, 2010.
  • O’Shannassy, T (2003), ‘Modern Strategic Management: Balancing Strategic Thinking and Strategic Planning for Internal and External Stakeholders’, Singapore Management Review, vol. 25, no. 1, p. 53.