More Tools and
Techniques for Scanning
We are all time travelers on a journey into
the future. However, we are not tourists
accompanied by a guide who can tell us just
what lies ahead and will keep us safe andr
comfortable. Instead, we are explorers in an
unknown and dangerous region that no one
has ever seen before.
—Edward Cornish (2004)
Edward Cornish, founder and longtime president of the World Future Society (WFS), is a leading proponent of environmental scanning. He urges us to “identify and understand those phenomena or aspects of the world that are most relevant to the people or groups who need this information for important decisions” (2004, p. 81).
We have a choice. We can choose to fly blind through a thick fog, or we can turn on our radar to penetrate that hazardous haze and get a clearer picture of the terrain below and the storm ahead. That's what environmental scanning does. It serves as our radar and helps us navigate the unknown rather than being unmercifully tossed by the winds or lost in a collision we might have avoided—or at least prepared for.
In Chapters 4 and 5, we took an in-depth look at identifying, analyzing, and dealing with trends and issues. In this chapter, we explore additional ways to get and stay in touch with the world around us. Despite their obvious value, these tools and techniques should not become an excuse for “shuffling things around rather than thinking,” cautions veteran futurist Joseph F. Coates, coauthor of 2025: Scenarios of U.S. and Global Society Reshaped