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This content is taken from the University of Stellenbosch Business School Executive Development's online course, Futurism and Business: Dealing with Complexity. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 5 seconds As you saw in during the first week of the program, there are different reasons for wanting to gain more understanding about the future– different objectives. We also noted that sometimes we can be very specific about the future, sometimes be far broader. In addition, we saw that there are different schools of thought regarding how to think about future. It stands to reason therefore, that there are going to be different sets of tools, different elements of a toolbox that we can use to gain more knowledge about the future. And these elements range from very specific quantitative forecasting, qualitative forecasting. Something we’ll learn more about in a little while– scanning the environment.

Skip to 0 minutes and 49 seconds We also use some very impressive sounding techniques such as morphological methods, analogy techniques, input-output models, narrative techniques, cost-benefit analysis, econometric modeling, and many more. Sometimes we use only one of these tools, at other times might blend them. That choice will depend of what we want to achieve in gaining more knowledge about the future. In this learning unit, we’ll be taking a specific look at a handful of the better known tools used by futurists. These include scanning the environment, quantitative forecasting, trend analysis, and perhaps the best known of the lot, scenarios. We’ll take a look at the meaning of each one of these during this learning unit and talk about their potential application.


When we want to gain a better understanding of the future, our objectives are sometimes very specific, they could also be far broader. There are also different schools of thought around futurism. We therefore need to have a set of tools that we can use depending on the situation and what we want to learn about the future.

In steps to follow, we will discuss some of these tools and how they can be used.

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This video is from the free online course:

Futurism and Business: Dealing with Complexity

University of Stellenbosch Business School Executive Development