Developing Foresight Capability at William Rainey Harper College 13

Considerations in Developing a Foresight Capability at William Harper Rainey College

Planning is an iterative activity. If the world did not change, we could develop only one plan and just stick to it. However, we live in a turbulent world. David Brinkley, during the breakup of the former Soviet Union, stated that each day seems to bring the dawn of a new era. Certainly the fall of the Berlin wall, the unification of Germany, the breakup of the Warsaw Pact, and the breakup of the Soviet Union, have transformed our world. The European Community may include Eastern Europe in the largest free trade zone the world has yet seen. In response, other free trade zones are in the making (e.g., the North American Free Trade Treaty between Canada, the United States and Mexico possibly incorporating countries in Central and in South America; Australia and New Zealand). Are these signals of another momentous event--international free trade with its concomitant dislocations of workforces and industries?

In such a world we need a foresight capability that allows us to anticipate the future and to use this anticipation in conjunction with an analysis of our organization--its culture, mission, strengths and weaknesses--to define strategic issues, to chart our dir ection by developing strategic vision and plans, to define how we will implement these plans and to specify how we will evaluate how well we are implementing these plans.

The purpose of this paper is to provide you with basic background material on scanning and monitoring the external environment, the essential components of a foresight capability, and concrete, specific activities to use to developing and maintain the capability at William Harper Rainey.