Designing Your Association’s Journey into Foresight

ASAE ForesightWorks not only delivers research on drivers of change affecting associations, it also aspires to help associations create a culture of foresight.

To support that aspiration, this month ASAE ForesightWorks accompanied the release of action briefs on 41 drivers of change with a user’s guide to help association leaders become foresight champions. It also offered six action sets with additional resources to help association leaders organize strategic conversations and decision making in these areas: content, learning and knowledge; data and technology; demographics and membership; economic conditions; society and politics; and workforce and workplace.   

ASAE ForesightWorks “envisions a future in which association leaders not only are aware of potential changes ahead, but they are actively engaged with their organizational leadership, their staff, their members, and their peers to plan for and create opportunities from these changes….Association leaders, staff, and volunteers all have roles in advancing foresight within an organization—and across an industry. Every journey starts with someone willing to identify and lead others to the right destination.” –From the User’s Guide

Marsha Rhea, president of Signature i, LLC, authored the user’s guide, Designing Your Association’s Journey into Foresight, to help associations use the ASAE ForesightWorks research and resources to accelerate and customize their own approach to foresight practices. Our research collaborator, Foresight Alliance, created the context and resources for the six action sets.

The user’s guide takes association foresight champions through three steps in initiating foresight, conducting research and analysis, and applying foresight then provides guidance for customizing an association’s approach. Here is an overview of the user guide’s sections and resources:

Step One: Initiating Foresight Practices. This section will get you thinking like a futurist. It walks you through decisions about the purpose and rationale for your foresight efforts, helps you identify potential participants, and introduces processes you can use in your own practice.

Step Two: Conducting Foresight Research and Analysis. This section covers the methodology and practices of scanning and forecasting. You will determine how to prioritize and work with the ASAE ForesightWorks action briefs to expedite your efforts.

Step Three: Applying Foresight. This section will show you how to put foresight to work in your key strategic decisions through visioning, planning, and acting. These steps will help you determine how to make foresight a part of your ongoing association processes.

Planning Your Foresight Journey. Once you understand the three steps of practicing foresight, it is time to decide how you will proceed. This section maps out three levels of engagement with potential activities: exploratory, engaged, and leading. To start you on this journey, you will find some counsel on overcoming resistance and how to effectively use futurists and other consultants.

Tools, Facilitation Guidance, and Resources. To support your work, this section features some tools, tips, and resources to execute some of the recommended practices described in this guide.

Whether an association is just beginning its journey into foresight or is looking for ways to strengthen an existing program, the user’s guide offers practical advice on championing foresight within associations. The ASAE ForesightWorks research doesn’t eliminate the need for any association to research and analyze the industry, profession or cause it serves, but this program of research and resources does give all associations a huge jumpstart into practicing foresight and identifying changes that could affect their future.