A flashback: the history of strategic foresight
The future has since been a source of fascination for many writers, from Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels to Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.
In 1763, after long wars that transformed values and national borders, Samuel Madden published the book Reign of George VI. It was the birth of exploring the unknown, the dawn of speculative fiction. He made the first structured forecast of the future. Madden introduced a new way of thinking by imagining other circumstances for mankind. As with Roger Bacon’s (1260) technological vision or St. Thomas More’s (1516) “imaginary voyages,” he was quite taken with the future. Madden connected new future realities with the present, exploring progress beyond mere utopian aspirations. In his book, he determined that the future would be different from the present. It is neither divine nor a prophecy. His work ushered in a period of “professional horizon watchers.” These individuals dedicated their time to observing and understanding the potential changes on the horizon.
The future has since fascinated many writers, from Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels to Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. Those thinkers shared their ideas about the possible and imaginary, inspiring generations to envision alternative futures.
Science fiction entered popular culture in the 1950s. Futurists like Alvin Toffler and Daniel Bell brought this image genre into the mainstream. Inspirations surged, new forms of entertainment exploded, and society seriously considered the implications of technological advancements.
But the temporal perspective was still distant from the common businessperson. A military strategist and system theorist, Herman Kahn filled in the blanks. He translated the future into a logical process, scenario planning. The logic represented the missing link between planning and future thinking. As “the father” of prospecting, he argues that the present is more than a static extrapolation of the present. It isn’t a vision, but a discussion about conceivable alternatives, encouraging businesses to think more strategically about their futures.
However, the proposed process was not simple but embraced the diversity of society. Herman Kahn’s suggested scenario planning process asked companies to do extensive research to understand the changes thoroughly. Organizations, feeling uncomfortable executing such a complex method, simplified it and adjusted scenario planning to their current mindset, reducing society to a snapshot. The picture was static now and a mirror of the present, simplified and linear, incremental and determined by sequential thinking. This oversimplification limited the potential benefits of scenario planning.
When the oil crisis in the 1970s hit, many self-proclaimed forward-looking organizations were insufficiently prepared. They saw the fault as Herman Kahn’s prospective process, not their simplified application. It was the trigger point in ending the “hype” of future exploration, demonstrating the importance of embracing complexity and uncertainty when considering the future.
Question: Who pioneered the exploration of the future in literature?
Answer: Samuel Madden pioneered the exploration of the future with his 1763 book, "Reign of George VI", making the first structured forecast.
Question: How did science fiction become part of popular culture?
Answer: Science fiction entered popular culture in the 1950s, with futurists like Alvin Toffler and Daniel Bell bringing the genre into the mainstream.
Question: Who introduced the concept of scenario planning?
Answer: Herman Kahn, a military strategist and system theorist, introduced the concept of scenario planning, helping businesses think more strategically about their futures.
Question: Why did some organizations fail to benefit from scenario planning fully?
Answer: Organizations simplified the complex scenario planning method, limiting its potential benefits. This oversimplification resulted in a static, linear view of the future.
Question: What event highlighted the importance of embracing complexity and uncertainty in future planning?
Answer: The oil crisis of the 1970s highlighted the importance of embracing complexity and uncertainty in future planning, as many forward-looking organizations were unprepared for the crisis.
 The first book was Memoirs of the Twentieth Century. The author destroyed most copies, so the book had no major influence on future thinking.
 Roger Bacon, a medieval monk, wrote his beliefs about the future in Epicola de Secretis Operibus. Especially interesting are his visions of machines that can drive, row, and fly without the help of animals.
 St. Thomas More describes in his book Utopia imaginary voyages inspired by the explorers and scientific investigations of the 17th century and coined the same term.
 Arthur C., Clarke. 1979. p.2
 Mats, Lindgren and Hans, Bandhold. 2003
 Salim, Ismail. 2014. Kindle Location 487