Skip to main content

Table 9 Theoretical framework about human limitations evident in interview responses

From: What corporations do with foresight

Foresight framework theories Practitioners’ comments
Sense-making
 Sense-making involves understanding how unique meanings are assigned by different people to the same phenomenon [27], this reduces ambiguity and uncertainty enabling the individual or organizational leader to take action. Firm had “hit the wall” with severe financial and operational stress … FS helped firm understand what might change the future of their industry’s communications even before contemporary technology was available. (I05)
The limits of knowledge
 Bounded rationality implies that humans can absorb a finite amount of information before reaching saturation and becoming overwhelmed [2]. “No such thing as a technology disruption. Rarely does it happen where a new technology comes out of nowhere and just shocks a company unless they’re not doing their foresighting homework at all. It just doesn’t happen that a technology comes along overnight.” (I02)
Temporal myopia
 Temporal myopia exists when the pressures of complex decisions lead managers to make decisions, neglecting the future or demonstrating limited understanding of the impact of present decisions on future events [26]. “The fundamental issue is, that the time required to solve a break-through technical problem exceeds the time horizon of our view of what our consumers want.” (I06)
Epistemic blind spots
 A stream of warning signals are not heeded because the information does not align with existing beliefs [6]. If a business unit is in bad shape and under pressure, the people in that unit do not care about the long-term; there is too much short-term pressure to think about the future (I07).
Risk denial
 Warning signals are discounted or minimized, and corrective action is not taken [6]. Senior management is in denial, which makes the firm too slow to address product line decline… (I01); in early 2000’s, one firm’s response to new communications technology was ‘if it takes hold, we will buy them’ …acquisition did not happen and devastated telecom part of company. (I07)