The aim of our research is to perceive and interpret developments in the strategic environment that are significant for the future. Staying aware of external change in this way is an essential activity for all organizations. One way to see why is through an ecological metaphor.
The organization is like an organism that occupies a particular environmental niche, to which it is well adapted. If the environment changes, the organism will have to adapt in order to survive. But if the environment changes so much that it goes beyond the adaptive range of the organism, the organism will have to search for a new niche.
Futures research provides the organization with a means to scan its strategic environment for signals of significant change, and to prompt new ideas for adaptive change. If the degree of change is large, it also provides the means to search the strategic environment for alternative niches in which the organization could thrive.
This input from outside allows the organization to set or recalibrate its goals, and bring its strategy into alignment. In short, every organization depends on a continuous flow of information about outside change, to keep management’s ‘action frame’ up to date and ensure that the organization remains viable.