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Foresight’s FOUR Frames

The full Essay has been published in Cadmus Journal Vol. 3, Issue 3  (p. 113-121) and is available here: Foresight’s FOUR Frames (October 2017)


Strategic Foresight is usually understood to be a process for exploring possible and plausible futures, or an ability to better anticipate and prepare for what those futures may hold. This perspective may reflect the majority of foresight practice, but, intellectually and in terms of potential value, it is incomplete and unnecessarily constrains the scope and clarity of insights Foresight could provide. The article argues for Foresight to be deployed on the full context of the selected theme; on the dynamically evolving set of factors of four frames. The frames are the past, the present, the future, and the commitment those contributing to the Foresight bring to the exercise. Each of the four frames is influenced, more or less depending on the theme and the timing, by the state of one or more of the other three. A Foresight exercise that omits consideration of even only one frame weakens its output and may, in times of unexpected or extreme disruption for the theme being explored, render the output unusable without major adjustment.


David Harries ( Principal of the SSG. He holds a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of London. He served in the Canadian military for several decades, was Director of Curriculum Planning and Deputy Commandant at the National Defence College of Canada, and has directed a MA program at the Royal Military College. Affiliate of the Pugwash Conference on Science and Global Affairs, Associate Director of Foresight Canada, and security foresight facilitator at Carleton University in Ottawa. Until recently, he was Chair of the Canadian Pugwash Group.

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