Futures Analysis


Futures analysis allows companies to project future conditions and set future objectives to be achieved. It represents a leap to the future rather than step-by-step progression from  today’s situation forward to the future. It allows managers to assess the future relevance of issues that appear important today and thereby identify important human resource issues.

Futures analysis is an inherent requirements for strategic thinking. It requires defining the forces shaping the future, evaluating alternative future states, setting objectives, and selecting courses of action that will yield needed changes in direction for the enterprise. While incremental change analysis looks at continuities, futures analysis looks at discontinuities.

Futures analysis provides at least a conceptual vision of the future that can help identify and define organizational or competitive requirements. In its simplest forms, futures analysis involves open thinking about future issues and options. Companies use brainstorming, visioning, or modified Delphi analysis (iterative survey of experts) to help define the future human resource issues that need to be addressed. It is an exercise that may involve many participants within the company as well as outside consultants or others.

Futurists, functioning on company planning staffs and as independent consultants, have helped assess the prospective futures in which companies would operate. Their value added appears to lie in their work on demographic technological and environmental futures. In other areas, such as, socio-political changes worldwide, energy availability, economic conditions, or legislation.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Using Judgmental Forecasts


Judgmental forecasts are based on subjective views – often the options of experts in the field. Suppose a company is about to market an entirely a new product, or the board is looking at plans for 25 years in the future. They won’t have any relevant historical data for a quantative forecast. Sometimes there is a complete absence of data, and at other times the data is unreliable or irrelevant to the future.

 Quantative forecasts are always more reliable, but when you don’t have the necessary data, you have to use a judgmental method. There are five widely used methods:

  • Personal insight. This uses a single person who is familiar with the situation to produce a forecast based on his or her own judgment. This is the most widely used forecasting method – but is unreliable and often gives very bad results.
  • Panel consensus. This collects together a group of experts to make a forecast. If there is no secrecy and the panel talk freely and openly, you can find a genuine consensus. On the other hand, there may be difficulties in combining the views of different people.
  • Market surveys. Sometimes even groups of experts don’t have enough knowledge to give a reasonable forecast about, for example, the launch of a new product. Then market surveys collect data from a sample of potential customers, analyze their views and make inferences about the population at large.
  • Historical analogy. If you are introducing a new product, you might have a similar product that you launched recently, and assume that demand for the new product will follow the same pattern. If a publisher is selling a new book, it can forecast the likely demand from the actual demand for a similar book it published earlier.
  • Delphi method. For this you contact a number of experts by post and give each a questionnaire to complete. Then you analyze the replies from the questionnaires and send summaries back to the experts. You ask them if they would like to reconsider their original replay in the light of summarized replies from others. This is repeated several times – usually between three and six – until the range of options is narrow enough to help with decisions.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight