Strategic foresight is looking down towards the temporal road in an effort to anticipate the upcoming future and acting in accordance with respect to seizing of opportunities, preparing for inevitabilities and avoiding the associated dangers. This foresight is very essential in my upcoming future (Vecchiato, 2012). Presently I am a student and on a verge of entering into the career stage of my professional life. I wish to make my professional career in the field of hotel business, where I am likely to face many opportunities and threats due to changing environmental scenario. In this respect, there is an urgent need on my part to be aware about the issues associated with the same by use of tools and techniques related to strategic foresight (Emblemsvåg, 2006).
In the present report, I am presenting a critical reflection of the effectiveness related to tools and techniques in terms of strategic foresight that has put an impact on the thinking about my future. I have developed an initial level of thinking about my future. I consider it to be a bright one due to immense opportunities in the field of hotel industry. There is a huge demand for trained manpower in this industry due to shortage of talent (Välikangas, 2012). Initially, I would be joining at an executive position and may increase my growth based on individual performances. In this respect, the critical reflection would help me in determining the effectiveness of tools and techniques in terms of strategic foresight that is likely to impact my own thinking about future (WHY STRATEGIC FORESIGHT, 2013).
According to many authors, strategic foresight helps in understanding the key drivers for change based in the purpose of acknowledging different images about the future. It is based on an aim to enrich the diagnosis and broaden the responses in coming future. For my future growth, I am most likely to face many adverse conditions and may also be required to explore new markets, products and services as well as the growth opportunities available in front of me (Bensoussan and Fleisher, 2008).
Various tools and techniques of strategic foresight have been assessed by the researchers. These are inclusive of Environmental Scanning, Horizontal scanning, Scenario Planning, Trend spotting, Future Awareness, SWOT analysis and others. Each of the tools and techniques has been critically evaluated by me so as to analyze the impact upon my thinking about future (Ratcliff, 2012).
According to many authors, environmental scanning is a process of gathering, evaluating and dispensing of information for meeting a strategic purpose. It entails having access to both factual as well as subjective information on the business environment. This technique will help me to find out whether I am in sync with the human resource needs of hotel industry in terms of my competency (Laan. and Erwee, 2012). It will also aid in the process of providing me with a vision to the future job opportunities in the hotel industry that might be available in front of me. It would further guide me in the direction of gaining certain skill set that should be acquired by me (Pérez, Saritas, Pook and Warden, 2011). For example, the technological factors will help me in the determination of those technology requirements that can aid in getting an edge over my subordinates. This will help me to get a good grip about various software’s, devices etc. that are used in hotel industry.
However, most of the authors are of the opinion that they may not help me in the process of how and from where these skills can be acquired. Moreover, they may also make me unaware about up to what extent I lag behind in these skills or not. The given technique is definitely going to impact my own thinking about the future. For example, presently I carry an optimistic opinion about my future career in hotel industry. But, after the subsequent analysis I might feel that economic factors like recession may diminish my career opportunity in a good hotel firm of my choice. The HR policies formulated by management of hotel with respect to political factor might force me to change the place, hotel or even force me to move towards other sectors that are more employees friendly (Alsan and Oner, 2003).
Another technique in this respect is the scenario planning which has been defined by many authors as a method to think about and preparing oneself for the alternative future environment. The given scenarios help in provision of the pictures as well as the visions that are held in the future. The planning is inclusive of an assessment about the likelihood and probable impact of the scenarios for drawing out the associated implications. Hence, the alternate scenarios can help me in understanding of uncertainties that lie in front of me and how can they impact my future career (Laan and Erwee, 2012). It will aid as a boon for rehearsing or even changing my responses to the possible futures as the uncertainties begin to unfold.
The scenario planning is bound to impact my own thinking about the future. At present, I have planned a scenario with respect to orienting my career in the hotel industry. But after planning other scenarios, I may be presented with a range of possibilities other than the hotel sector. They might alter the decision making process for a short and long-term that may further be based on my analysis of other scenarios. According to Lawrence Wilkinson (2009), it is very unclear as to which scenario might unfold in the upcoming future. Most of the authors have also cited certain limitations associated with the same. The technique might not happen overnight and takes a lot of time, research and commitment from my side. Moreover, the decision that I reach after the planning might have a potential to change my complete career path.
Expert opinion is also regarded as a method to strategic foresight. It involves consultation with the experts about the upcoming future. This technique can be of great use to me to find out the possible future in hotel industry where I have decided to base my career. The opinions given by expert in the hotel industry can help me in pinpointing the possible trends in hotel industry (Laan and Erwee, 2012). They can act as a true reflector about my upcoming future of professional life. The valuable set of opinion given by them can help me to decide if I have chosen a right decision. This technique might impact the thinking about my future in many ways. On a positive front, it might be helpful to tell the possible opportunities and risk factors that may help me in taking the right decision. On the other hand, on a negative front, it is likely to put an impact on my decision that has been taken by me. There are also certain limitations associated with expert opinion technique. The results are based on opinion of experts which are only there viewpoints and might not reflect the right scenario (Haldrige, 2008).
Another essential technique that has been found to be useful in development of a strategic foresight is wildcards. This involves for the identification followed by the usage of unexpected and highly improbable events that could have a severe positive or a negative impact in undertaking of a future course of action by me (Ged, 2002). For example, in the present case, I might get a chance to undergo training process under a well known hotel firm. The mangers may get influenced by my work and offer an opportunity to work in the hotel (Nazarko, 2010). This can be regarded as a wild card and can be useful for me to undermine the trend and bring a radical shift in my future. In this respect, the wild card would help me to determine the probabilities of such unexpected events that might change the future course of action that has been undertaken by me. However, this technique also carries certain limitations where wild card have an equal chance to challenge the assumptions in the presence of given scenarios (Herzog, 2010).
From the above paragraphs, it is very clear that strategic foresight plays a key role in understanding the wide range of possible futures that can be utilized to understand the action that has been decided by me to be undertaken in the near term future. It is a well known fact that futures can never be predicted (Tony, 2003). Hence the tools and techniques used in the strategic foresight can help in understanding the forces that play an essential role in shaping the course of future. Moreover, they also help in carrying out an assessment of the possible outcomes (Bensoussan and Fleisher, 2008). Various tools have been analyzed by me on the basis of viewpoints given by my peers and via referng to various sources of secondary literature. It is clear that, the tools and techniques that have been analyzed for the process of strategic foresight are effective enough to decide upon my future course of action. However, the techniques have their own set of limitations as well which might not make the usage of a single technique to be effective enough (Henry, 2008).
For example, the technique of environmental scanning may play an essential role to analyze the impact of various political, social, technological factors on the coming future. But they may not help in the direction about how the skill requirement that has been assessed via the technique can be acquired. In the same manner, scenario planning and wild cards might prepare oneself about the possible and alternative future courses of action (Lorat, 2009). But they require a lot of time, research and commitment to convert the process into a fruitful one. However, there is a presence of huge impact of those tools and techniques upon which my own thinking about the future is based (Pérez, Saritas, Pook and Warden, 2011). Till now, I have assessed my future to be a bright one as I wish to make a foray into hotel industry by choosing it as a long term course of career action. However, this can be affected by my uncertain future which is a possibility after use of tools and techniques like scenario planning, environmental analysis, expert opinion etc (WHY STRATEGIC FORESIGHT, 2013). The alternative approaches to scenario planning might present a deep insight towards other career options which may be useful for me to provide a better future. Hence, the need is to analyze the various tools and techniques in a proper manner so as to understand the impact of all the factors that are likely to govern my future.