Book helps business forecast future

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Book helps business forecast future

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Published on 18 November 2015

Forecasting the future is about to become a little easier thanks to a new book by a University of the Sunshine Coast academic.

Adjunct Professor Sohail Inayatullah is a leading expert in the interdisciplinary field of futures studies, which analyses patterns of change and stability in an attempt to map possible, probable and preferred future scenarios.

His new book 'What Works: Case Studies in the Practice of Foresight' translates the principles and theories of futures studies into a practical overview that is accessible for business and community leaders, as well as academic readers.

Professor Inayatullah said the book’s title was inspired by the CEOs he has worked and consulted with around the world.

“Futures studies or foresight seeks to move from focussing on current problems to anticipating emerging issues – solving tomorrow’s problems today,” he said. “But when I talk to leaders in a business context, the first thing they want to know is whether these theories will work in their organisations.

“So the book is a guide to the past 30 years of projects in the field, looking at what works and what doesn’t in terms of organisational change.”

In order to demonstrate the impact of foresight on organisations, cities and nations, 'What Works' includes in-depth case studies and anecdotes on a range of topics, from the future of international policing to the changing nature of health care in rural Australia. The book also evaluates the use of futures thinking for strategic development and transformation.

Professor Inayatullah said the principles of futures studies would become more and more relevant as the pace of societal change increased.

“In the past the future might have seemed simple, but now society is changing every day,” he said. “Future-oriented leadership is in demand across all sectors, especially those where the future is being disrupted by technology or where stakeholders tend to disagree.

“The book is designed to showcase successful strategies that business and community leaders can draw on to get everyone on the same page, moving toward the same future.”

Professor Inayatullah has been a leading researcher in the field for more than 30 years and pioneered the technique of Causal Layered Analysis, which is taught in USC’s Graduate Certificate in Futures Studies. He also supervises doctoral and Masters students at USC.

— Jarna Baudinette

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