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How to Think Like a Futurist: Developing Strategic Foresight

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Content Overview
It would be profoundly reassuring to view the current downturn with COVID-19, trade war, and economic difficulties as simply another tough time that we need to get through. Unfortunately, today’s mix of urgency, uncertainty and volatility will continue as the new norm even after all this pass by. It is almost so certain that nothing will serve as a firewall again intensifying complexities, instability and vulnerability experienced at home and abroad. Also witnessed, on the other hand, is the overwhelming driving future forces in our doorsteps. An article recently published in Korea stated that children in present day school will be required to learn 7-10 distinctive skills throughout their life time to stay as a value-add employee in the labor market.

Strategic foresight is used in particular situations that are characterized as a VUCA context, which makes our world largely unpredictable and the future fairly unknown. Traditional approaches no longer provide reliable outcomes; however this method are designed to deal with VUCA environments. In this online program, various potential scenarios will be generated, from which future will begin to come into view. Participants will then identify the common patterns, so called the transformational factors, from which a strategies and action items will be brought forth. Participants will culminate with a ‘white paper’ based on the context their respective organizations are situated in with respect to opportunities and challenges they are facing.

In this three-week online blended program, participants will learn about the two worlds of present and future, as a way to understand, and to an extent predict, what is to come, and how best we could prepare for it so all of us are able to continue to remain in the growth path. This program will discuss about the rationale for using foresight techniques as part of strategy and planning processes, and present some methods for doing so. It will share the main principles of foresight from a practitioner’s point of view, including an approach by which the participants can learn about the future and study trends, drivers and signals of change. Special emphasis will be given to scenarios, which are one of the main tools that are used. Frameworks introduced in this workshop differs from traditional scenario planning approaches, which generally build on models.

Participants will engage in a three-week online blended learning program composed of 6 touch points (2 days per week) with virtual interactive live lectures, individual readings and assignments, guided group work, and personalized feedback from the facilitators. A certificate signed by a Harvard faculty shall be issued to participants upon completion of all required online course work.

Key Outcomes
Through the program, participants will: 

  • Understand the value of strategic foresight in a VUCA context
  • Learn about the different types of futures and analyzing each of these
  • Gain a toolkit of skills on scenario planning, systems approach, and decision making
  • Map out and analyze the current opportunities and challenges faced by their organizations
  • Identify the common patterns and transformational factors from which strategies will be developed
  • Create the framework of a plan for how to put the concepts learned into action

Teaching Faculty
1. Samuel Kim, Harvard University, MPA
Samuel Hungsoo Kim is the Founding President of the Center for Asia Leadership. Passionate about nurturing and empowering talent in Asia, Samuel runs over 70 programs annually, in 31 Asian countries, to help the region’s emerging leaders explore ways of being socially responsible as they face today’s complex challenges. His research and programs focus on overcoming the immunity to change, addressing maladaptive leadership practices, defining leadership in the times of an absence of authority, and dealing with macro and micro uncertainties. To date, some 42,000 emerging and established leaders from the governmental, political, non-profit, and corporate spheres in Asia have benefited from his programs. Prior to establishing CAL, Samuel worked in a wide range of sectors, from strategy consulting and social entrepreneurship to international development, politics, and government. He has worked for and with over 30 renowned organizations, including the United Nations, UNESCO, Samsung, and Toyota. Samuel holds an MPA from Harvard University. He is the editor of twelve books and regularly writes opinion pieces and editorials.

2. Rahul Daswani, Harvard University, MPP
Rahul Daswani is a Futurist, Intrapraneur, Coach, and Ex-McKinsey Consultant. Passionate about designing and implementing organization-wide initiatives to build capabilities, he has over 10 years experience founding or being in the early stages of 3 government startups: Strategy Group in Singapore’s Prime Minister’s Office, SkillsFuture Singapore (to encourage lifelong learning), and the Office of Climate Change (now upgraded to the Climate Change Development Authority) of Papua New Guinea. He has worked at both macro and micro levels, assessing the demand and supply of critical skills across industries at SkillsFuture Singapore, crafting scenarios for the future at the Prime Minister’s Office in Singapore, creating sustainable development plans with provinces in Indonesia while at McKinsey, scaling up agricultural extension services in Ethiopia through good governance and business practices, and building talent at the Office of Climate Change and Development in Papua New Guinea. Rahul holds a Master in Public Policy at Harvard University, focusing on political and economic development.


1. What does online blended learning mean? Online blended learning combines online resources and interactive approaches to learning conducted over the course of several days or weeks. This includes live virtual lectures with an instructor, individual readings and assignments which you can do at your own pace, facilitator-led group work and discussion, and mini projects where you can directly apply your learning – all conducted online.

2. What are the online platforms/ technological equipment needed to participate in the program? Online learning does not require highly advanced tools and equipment. All you need is a computer (desktop or laptop) with a functional webcam, microphone, and speaker, and preferably connected to a LAN cable for more stable internet connectivity (a good stable Wifi will also work).

3. Is an online blended training claimable under HRDF? Yes. HRDF categorizes this as an e-learning program that is claimable for HRDF-registered employers.

Watch this webinar to preview the course.