The aim of our future-oriented research is to identify and interpret weak signals in the strategic environment that are significant indicators for the future. Staying aware of external change in this way and learning from it is an essential activity for all organizations.
Organizations are like organisms occupying a particular environmental niche to which they are well adapted. If the environment changes, the organism must adapt to survive. But if the environment changes too much and goes beyond the adaptive range of the organism, the organism must search for a new niche.
Futures research provides organizations with a means to learn from the strategic environment by being open to signals of change, by interpreting the strategic implications, and by developing fresh ideas for adaptive response. If the degree of change is large, futures research will trigger a search of the strategic environment for alternative niches in which the organization could thrive.
Strategic learning about the external context allows organizations to rethink strategy and set new goals. In short, every organization depends on a continual flow of future-oriented information from outside for timely updating of its ‘decision frames’ and to ensure that it remains viable.