Developing Foresight Capability at William Rainey Harper College 16

Scanning provides us with critical trends and potential events. Monitoring entails using trend descriptors or potential event indicators as key words in a systematic search to obtain information about them. Thus, when monitoring, we seek information containing forecasts and speculations about the implications of trends and events identified in scanning for colleges and universities.

Establishing a Foresight Process

Establishing a foresight process to create strategic intelligence requires effort and resources. Simpson, McGinty, & Morrison (1990), in describing how the University of Georgia's Center for Continuing Education established their system, note that at least a half-time professional with support staff was necessary for that organization. The professional staff person is responsible for identifying information resources, maintaining the scanning files (electronic and paper copy), training scanners and abstractors, and maintaining the structure to process information into strategic intelligence for the institution. The following section provides guidelines on what these tasks require.

Identifying Information Resources

The important criteria for information selection are diversity and assurance that all dimensions of each STEEP sector are covered. Information can be obtained from a variety of sources: newspapers, magazines, journals, TV and radio programs, conferences, and from knowledgeable individuals in personal information networks.

Macroenvironmental Scanning Resources. In order to ensure that you are adequately scanning the macroenvironment, you must identify specific information resources for each STEEP category locally through globally. Although Morrison (1992) has compiled a comprehensive list of information sources organized by category for the macroenvironment, the following scanning publications are particularly useful when initiating a scanning system.