Monday, November 3, 2008

Request to Read about FSA

I have been asked recently if there is something written on Foresight Styles Assessment. There is a lot of information on the website and monthly entries at Foresight Files and Consulting Change. A manual is available on the website which is tailored to those who wish to become certified. A theoretical paper is currently being written, and a statistical paper will follow. Here is an excerpt from the opening of the theoritical paper:

The Foresight Styles Theory defines and measures a range of thinking that distinctly influences responses to change and the future. In this particular juncture in time, change is increasing in speed and intensity. The human organism struggles to respond to this change. Within the broad range of both capacities and needs there are four, values related orientations: temporal (time orientation), structural (stronger or lesser need), doing/being (acting/observing), systemic/linear which assist us in our response to change. Each individual contributes their own unique combination of each orientation to every external change they meet during their lifespan. Foresight Styles Assessment is a tool designed for the purpose of drawing focus to just those qualities in each individual and group which are used to survive in this ever changing world.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Place of Creativity and of Holistic Foresight

Recently, in writing about Foresight Styles Assessment, I have spent a lot of time explaining why the "Futurist" style differs quantitatively from most of the other five styles which have their own personalities, but are relatable to the massive and statistically validated body of research known as Innovation Diffusion. I am convinced that there is a place of creativity and of holistic foresight that comes together within us that is a part of a genetic gift that we all have to varying degrees. I am convinced that how we relate to the future is highly influenced by that genetic gift.

Evolutionary scientists are learning more every day about the development of our brains. The order of the brains development has been established for decades now. We are just beginning to learn about things like plasticity, the way culture and behavior shape the brain, the way past memories influence what we can imagine the future to be. We are also learning how genetics influences what our brains can be and what they can and cannot do.

Another of the styles that doesn't fit into the innovation diffusion scheme is the "Opportunist". It may feel as if the parts of us that live in the present, that look for what will enhance our lives here and now, the parts that, in our materialistic, achieving society tempt our values towards gain for fame's sake are totally negative. Yet, we see many examples of opportunistic behavior every day and we act on opportunities that we would regret if we didn't take them. Opportunism represents more than just the speed with which we accept an innovation. It goes to the motivation behind our need to live in the present, to use whatever comes along to enhance our survival now without regard to a future time. This is also a part of our brain's architecture. It speaks to survival, at the reptilian brain level, but also in other parts of our brain. If lying will get a hug, praise, acceptance or acknowledgement and those qualities are missing from our lives; naturally we will take the opportunistic road and leave thoughts of the future for others.

That opportunistic behavior can also be of value in a change process was something I came to slowly. As Maslow put it, there is a certain hierarchy of needs and survival is the bottom line. An organization, in which I am a member, recently was on the brink of extinction. It was very hard for the membership (largely academic and all working with some aspect of the future) to keep straight what were the "Opportunist" actions and "Futurist" actions. Fortunately, the group had one person who understood the difference and was willing to take charge.

It feels presumptuous to offer a model of change that is tangent to such a well developed concept as Innovation Diffusion. I still feel strongly that FSA is a more holistic view of change. It can be used to fulfill our need for understanding and learning. FSA can be used as a way to grow ourselves, our communities and our organizations. It is integral to understanding the present and creating the future.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Answer is in the Questions

A group who recently took Foresight Styles Assessments made an oft repeated comment, "What interesting questions, they really made me think". Often Consultants and even individuals who are interested in FSA for personal or group development ask me, "What should I do with my results"? Naturally the results are interesting, and I will speak to that in the near future, but the questions can be just as useful. Take, for example, the question about being willing to give up benefits in the present to assure even better rewards in the future.

It is easy to come up with daily personal examples - give up this desert now for less weight gain in the future, pay bills now for lowering stress and feeling good about one’s self.

In business situations there are also many examples such as, address possible customer illness or injury caused by our product now instead of dealing with bad publicity, lowered product sales and legal costs in the future, - spend now on research for non-polluting materials for later rewards in the form of positive publicity, good will, saving on future fines or pollution clean-up costs.

How can giving up success now for even better rewards in the future help your team, your leadership group or your department? Are you, as Consultant, CEO, or leader willing to take such questions up in your organization? What better way to get more people involved in the decision making?

When it has to do with changes in process, work load, new assignments, new bosses or new mechanization, some employees, when questioned, perceive decision makers as a threat to them and their world. These individuals fight the changes recommended by others no matter who they are. When asked why they resist they reply with a series of responses you have heard before, "they don't know our organization", "they are too young (or old) and haven't thought things through," they don't have any experience in this specific situation", we've been through these changes before and it only makes things worse. These individual are those who can make life difficult in an organization change. Are they just difficult people who we can dismiss? Do they have any points to make? An open discussion of this question, handled respectfully, could open a few new doors.

Take Foresight Styles Assessment and think through the questions in relation to a current assignment or change situation. Use the questions and your own creativity to open difficult subjects and get people to articulate their feelings and attitudes.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Working with individuals

I recently had the pleasure of working with a college student who had taken Foresight Styles Assessment and wanted to discuss her results. She was curious what the answers would reveal about her. She thought that it was hard to choose which response was most descriptive of how she felt about each question. This is not unusual as many times those who take FSA are not used to thinking of themselves in terms of foresight. We are rarely called upon to define our own behaviors in terms of how we respond to change.

She had her highest points on Futurist and Activist. This happens very often that Futurist and Activist styles are linked. "But", responded the assessment taker, "I don't see myself as much of an activist, I don't go out and demonstrate or plan actions against anything".

"Do you try to convince others to accept your view of things?" I countered. Well, it turned out that she did, all the time in fact! Activism is about convincing others to think and behave differently. Some of us try to change the minds of many at once and others of us try to change one mind at a time. They are just different activist strategies.

Another person I worked with, this time a man with a lot of business success behind him, said that he thought he was more of a Futurist than his scores showed. He was disappointed because he thought of himself as being ahead of his peers. He had a great score in opportunism which shortened the time frame in which he worked. He was, however, always ahead of his contemporaries even if it was just one or two jumps ahead. The fact is that many people would have loved his profile and would have liked to be less of a Futurist and more of an Opportunist in order to be a little more successful in the monetary sense. A Futurist with very high scores is often so far into the future than they are not able to be productive in everyday activities. They are interrupted by the big picture, linkages of one activity to another and possible consequences.

One of the interesting parts of working with individuals are the "aha" experiences they get. A well known futurist/consultant, with many years of experience and education in the field had the same experience. She felt that her Futurist style was lower than she had wished or expected. She realized that working with the business world as much as she had, her futurist inclinations had taken a back seat to the shorter term outlooks most companies have today. She had unconsciously prioritized one part of herself over another. That was her “aha” experience.

When starting out with Foresight Styles Assessments you might be unsure about how to help your clients with their understanding of the material. The good thing is that help is not far away. For ideas and inspiration contact Natalie Dian at the numbers and address listed in contact information at I will be happy to work with you.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Organization Profiles - getting the arrows alligned

Which description best fits your company?
Cutting-Edge - State of the art firm, leading in it's field

New Thinking - Changing the way business is done or changing the world

High Profit - Looking for lucrative opportunities

Quality Lift - Uses best practices and implements new innovations successfully tried by others

Corrective - Looking to perpetuate their success

Structural - Pillars in their "community" with many achievements

Each of these descriptions is instrumental in stimulating new directions, strategic actions or visions for the company. In their true form, organization profiles do not exist. To achieve a “perfect” profile, a company or organization would have to be made up of people; all having the same dominate foresight profile. Recruiting for such an organization would be a nightmare, and it is uncertain just how long such a grouping would be able to continue to exist. Just like individuals, organizations have different styles that impact the companies’ policy and behavior. We also know that a combination of age and success can change a company’s profile. A life insurance company that started prior to a depression with the goal of relieving the effects of economic disaster could be categorized as Cutting Edge. They perceived a future event and met the need. However, insurance is a long-range business with a time margin: the length of the longest life and the last signed policy. All things having gone well, the life insurance company matures and needs people who can maintain and develop the company. A Quality Lift profile takes over. The company grows and due to its increased size becomes more complex and centralized showing signs of Corrective profile, that is they look to perpetuate their success. As pillars in their “community” with a proud history and achievements behind them, our model company begins to slip into a Structural profile, where innovation is not advancement, but is seen as a threat to traditions and time-tested methods learned the hard way. Change threatens basic company values and jobs. Which profiles do you have pushing and pulling within your organization?

Friday, April 4, 2008

What is your companies story?

Below are six descriptions of company profiles related to Foresight Styles Assessment research. Which ones tell the story of your company or organization?

Cutting Edge: is state-of-the-art and lead in their field.
New Thinking: changing the way business is done or change the world!
High Profit: looks for lucrative opportunities.
Quality Lift: uses best practices and implements new innovations successfully tried by others.
Corrective: looks to perpetuate their success.
Structural: are pillars in their community with many achievements.

Knowing which company profile fits is a boon to strategic planning. It can help you in hiring (which doesn't mean hiring only leaders with a similar style), in decision making, in visioning and mission development and in managing.

It may be that your organization has been around so long that it has had all of the above stories at one time or another. Something or someone comes along and renewes it and it takes on a different profile and starts not only a new story, but a new book! If you feel FSA's company styles can help you to work more effectively with your clients you can write for more information to Why not tip a colleague to

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

More on Change

Take the Foresight Styles Assessment and take us up on our introductory offer.

Find more material on change on my Squidoo lens: Consulting Change

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Introductory price for Foresight Styles Assessment

Thanks to those of you who have ventured into Foresight Styles Assessment before we lifted our "almost ready" sign! You have helped us identify our weak spots and fix them. If you have never taken the assessment Foresight Styles we welcome you to take it for the introductory price of $12.75 (normal price 15.00). We hope you will learn more about yourself and how you handle change. If you would like to use it as a tool for personal growth, please feel free to contact us and we will give you a free 15 min. consultation via Skype. Make an appointment at and we will set it up!

This blog "The Foresight Files" is for those of you who work with people who are struggling with change. You will find insights, tips on how to get started and information on how to work with groups. We hope you will contribute with your experiences as you begin to work with the material. It is our goal to offer as much coaching as possible. We want you to be the Foresight Styles experts!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Positive group pressure as a way to change

If you want a way to show people how new ideas spread take a tip from Molly Melching, who works in Senegal. She has an interesting exercise that change consultants might find useful. She has everyone sit (someone could make sure that all participants are sitting before you enter the room). She introduces herself and explains that in her land (or in Cutting Edge companies, successful politicians or productive NGO's etc.) everyone stands when someone speaks before them (choose another behavior that fits your situation) and that it is normal to stand, people stand and listen when someone speaks. She goes around the room and spreads the message to a number of people that it is more comfortable to stand. One at a time people begin to test standing and they are encouraged to tell someone else nearby or a friend across the room. After a few have started to stand, Molly needs to speak to fewer and fewer participants. The new advocates for standing spread the word. Soon there are only a few left sitting. After a while all are standing.
This is an exercise that illustrates how an innovation (in this case a new behavior) becomes diffused throughout the group. Spend time with those who are most receptive to the innovation. Encourage them to speak to others. In this way, Molly Melching is raising the human rights of the women of Senegal beginning with those most interested and they pass it on. Her education program is presented only to volunteers. The concepts are broken into three levels with increasing sophistication and the innovating group stays in each village (department) for three years.