Agent modeling is a special type of computer-aided simulation in order to analyze autonomous units’ behavior and interaction with each other, as well as their impact on the entire system. Each unit, referred to as an “agent”, can be an individual as well as a collective entity, e.g. an organization. Agent modeling can be deployed as a method of futures studies, for instance as a support of developing scenarios.

A future assumption is a conviction of a probable future. Its expectational probability is expressed as a projection or a scenario.

Example: “We assume an 80 percent probability that in 2020 sixty percent of the inhabitants of city X will be living in a single person household.”

An expectation is a statement about the future rated with a high probability: We assume an eighty percent probability…

An eventuality is a statement about the future rated with a medium probability: We assume a fifty percent probability…

A non-expectationis a statement about the future rated with a low probability: We assume a ten percent probability…

With assumption questions the essential informationrequirements of the probable development of the environment can be determined.

Example: To what extent will the increasing use of videophony and conference technology reduce business traveling?

The assumption analysis helps to evaluate probable, future developments in the environment, gives orientation and reduces the complexity of the future.

Therefore, the question “Which changes are probably ahead and which are not?” will be asked. An assumption analysis is conducted within the scope of the blue futures glasses of the Eltville Model of Future Management in order to see the environment in a realistic and rather conservative way.

see surprise

Brainstorming is a creative method used in Future Management which helps generating ideas within a group setting. It can be used to develop projections and scenarios of possible developments as well as to develop opportunities from assumptions about the future. It is characteristic for the brainstorming process to be rather short and simple, i.e. without evaluation of the ideas. The group is guided by a facilitator in collecting ideas, even unpopular and “wacky” ones. The facilitator records all expressed ideas without stating his own. Compared to common group sessions, following these rules can immensely help increase the number of creative ideas being brought up.

Change management summarizes all measures which aim at the transformation of an organization from a current, present state to a desired, future state. A central concern of change management is to build up the employees’ level of acceptance and understanding for the required measures.

Change management and future management can complement each other. Future management can draw on approaches of change management in terms of concrete transformation and implementation processes, whereas in terms of systematic development of a desired aim, future management is superior to change management.

Content analysis is a method of futures studies used to deduce possible future developments from current media reports. Relevance and impact of these developments can be judged on basis of scope and type of the media reports.

Cross-impact-analysis is a forecasting technique used in futures studies in order to analyze and evaluate the potential interaction of particular possible future events and their probability of occurrence. A strength of this method lies within the fact that it necessarily guides the attention to possible chains of causation, because the probability of occurrence of each event is determined depending on other events.

The Delphi technique is a method of futures studies. An expert panel tries to reach a consensus on statements about the future during several rounds of interrogation. Special about this technique is the fact that the participating experts can see the (anonymous) answers of the others after every round. They can rethink their own answers and can change them. A basic assumption about the Delphi technique is that the interactive interrogation of several experts helps to see the developments of the future better.

Real-Time Delphi is a web based version of the Delphi technique allowing to see the answers immediately.

A developing opportunity is a highly rated future opportunity that can not yet be part of the future strategy because its value and its feasibility are still unknown. This opportunity still has to mature and needs further evaluation.

Example: We could introduce a system which automatically monitors competition, but we don’t know yet whether these systems can provide meaningful information.

The term diffusion describes the implementation and the spread of ideas and innovations within a social system.

Example: The television was at first used by few people and then spread step by step within the population.

A discontinuity describes a drastic change in the development of a trend which is far more than an usual variation.

Example:

  • The population shift caused by the baby boom generation
  • A very large scale change: from the industrial revolution to the information revolution

A dystopia is the opposite of a utopia. A dystopian society is often characterized by a totalitarian government and/or social repressions or suffers from increasing environmental destruction.

The Eltville Model of Future Management is used by organizations and public institutions in order to see the future comprehensively from all necessary perspectives and in order to see more of the future and future markets than competitors. It allows precise communication and a better understanding, offers a clear and useful structure for future strategies, effective and precise tools and methods. Moreover, it enables to better understand and profit from futures knowledge in media and literature.

It combines the requirements of scientific future management and the necessities of daily business activities.

An empathy matrix is a technique used in future management which supports the development of opportunities by connecting customer needs with the actual demand in all stages of a customer’s life (from the recognition of the demand to the disposal). This technique supports the identification of needs for change on basis of these connections.

Environmental scanning focuses on a more systematic search for information about the environment of an organization. It also prepares and analyses the relevance of that information. The scanning can be concentrated on certain fields, e.g. the macroeconomic environment, certain markets, competition or customer analysis. Environmental scanning is an important part of future management and is applied in the Eltville Model of Future Management as a future radar prior to the assumption analysis.

An eventual strategy is a possible action which can be carried out in case of the occurrence of surprises (unexpected events or developments) or major changes of future assumptions.

Example: In case of a substitutional technology entering the market we switch over to technology X.

An eventuality is an object of thought of the blue futures glasses within the Eltville Model of Future Management. It is a future assumption rated with a medium probability. Chances of occurrence or non-occurrence are equally probable. A future strategy should consider both cases.

Extrapolation is a model used to forecast and analyze the probable future. Existing trends are being forecasted by assuming they will continue to move as they have in the past. This model is very basic but also prone to error.

The amount of potential future relevant information is almost endless. Therefore, future management offers well-defined fields of observation, which make sure that the organization’s attention is directed to the relevant factors influencing the organization and their development. Fields of observation allow a systematic coverage of an organization’s relevant environment.

In which fields can changes principally occur?

  • Customers & Fields of Demand
  • Technologies & Methods
  • Market & Competitors
  • Laws & Regulations
  • Nature & Environment

A forecast is a statement about the probable development of a certain object of observation in the future based on currently available information. It is a special case of a projection, insofar as a probability of occurrence is stated.

The term prediction is sometimes used as a synonym for forecast and vice versa.

The forerunner analysis is a method applied in futures studies. It is based on the assumption that developments in different branches and countries take place in a similar, but time-delayed, way. A relevant region or branch is identified when certain aspects of it are considered the most advanced in the world. On basis of a close monitoring of this forerunner,forecasts for the development of successors are made.

Foresight in general refers to looking into the future and deals with the anticipative search for possible long-term developments and events.

Corporate foresight deals with measures which enable an organization to recognize and interpret relevant changes in the environment and allows the organization to react to those changes if necessary. It is part of future management.

Strategic foresight is used synonymously.

The future is a multi-facetted concept and far more diverse and complex than generally thought of. It is not only the time ahead of us: in fact, the future is plural. “Futures” indicates a certain lack of predictability and openness of the future.

We differentiate between ten types of futures:

  • unimaginable future
  • imaginable future
  • imagined future
  • possible future
  • plausible future
  • probable future
  • creatable future
  • desired future
  • planned future
  • surprising future

The futures are defined from the prespective of an individual actor with only limited knowledge, Therefore, they are contingent on subjectivity. Definitions of the types of futures are dependent on the time at which they are considererd and the types themselves depend on the sequence in which they are looked at.

Future factors can be defined as trends, technologies and issues which are the driving force of future change. These global forces profoundly change peoples’ living circumstances.

An Issue describes a phenomenon which causes future change in one or more directions.
Example: Religious or military conflicts

A trend is an explicitly directed change of one ore more variables within the environment.
Example: The amount of traveled kilometers per person p.a. is increasing.

A technology is a tool to enhance humans’ abilities.
Example:

  • Nanotechnology
  • Photonics
  • Human-Machine-Interfaces

A future market is a solution (products and services) for prospective important problems and wishes of people and organizations. This solution is either newly deriving or will generate a higher turnover. As opposed to “future trend” and “future technology”, for a future market it is clearly conceivable what is being produced for whom, why and how.

The future radar is the introductory step of the process model within the Eltville Model of Future Management. It serves to collect futures knowledge and information about the future (important trends and technologies), as well as to detect future developments and changes (and the driving forces) in the environment systematically and at an early stage.

Core concepts which are developed as part of this process are assumption questions, future factors, signals, projections, scenarios, etc.

The quality of the future strategy determines the quality of the future of an individual or an organization. A solid and innovative future strategy is to achieve substantial competitive advantages.

In contrast to a classic corporate or business strategy, a future strategy following the Eltville Model considers future developments, environmental scenarios, collective assumptions, potential surprises and future opportunities much deeper, wider and more intensively

A future strategy serves the efficient and consistent implementation of the strategic vision within the framework of the mission and considering the strategic guidelines. A future strategy comprises measurable goals, projects, processes, systems, developing opportunities and eventual strategies. It combines insights gained in future management in a structured system of planned action within daily business operations.

In the Eltville Model of Future Management the future strategy is determined – from the point of view of the violet futures glasses – within the scope of strategy development. It is the entirety of objects of thought which are required for the anticipation of the future, the setting of the mission, vision and guidelines as well as the setting and pursuit of goals.

A future strategy creates orientation and responsibility in day-to-day operations, increases efficiency by concentrating forces, allows regular performance controls and increases the probability and degree of success.
Strategy is the entirety of decisions, guidelines and activities for the setting and pursuit of long-term goals.

Future strategy is the entirety of objects of thought that are necessary for the anticipation of the future, the setting of mission, vision, guidelines as well as for the setting and pursuit of goals.

Futures studies is a young, scientific and interdisciplinary academic field. It deals with possible, desirable, plausible and probable images of the future. Among the tasks of futures studies are the exploration of future structural developments and effects and the derivation of consequences for the present.

The lines to future management are not fixed. Future management adds strategy and implementation to futures studies. Compared to future management, futures studies has a wider time horizon and its results are more abstract and rather theoretical.

Strategic guidelines can be defined as rules and principles regarding strategic values and behavior patterns.

Example: Five percent of our turnover we invest in research and development.

Guidelines can be defined:

  • on a normative-strategic level (together with vision an mission),
  • on a cultural- strategic level and
  • on a operative-strategic level (together with goals, projects, processes and systems).

Horizon scanning concentrates on detecting early signs of potentially important developments. New technologies, potential threats and opportunities are in the focus.

Ideas management seeks to promote and further increase an organization’s potential of innovation and optimization by systematically generating, collecting, evaluating and implementing suggestions for improvement. Key feature of ideas management is the openness to allowing all employees to participate beyond their actual duties. The employee suggestion scheme and the continuous improvement process are part of ideas management.

In general, an innovation is described as something new. It can be a new material or immaterial good, e. g. a new product, service or process.

Innovation management comprises the new development or improvement of products, services, systems and processes resulting in an advanced solution to a particular problem.

As well as in future management, the common goal is to creatively improve specific conditions and shape a satisfactory future.

Innovation management aims at a specific field of action whereas future management adapts a rather holistic and more general approach. In the Eltville Model of Future Management, the creative performance, i.e. the development of a new idea, is achieved within the scope of the green glasses. The idea is put into practice within the scope of the yellow and violet futures glasses.

Issues management describes the active management of issues which an organization can be confronted with in the future.

Just as in future management, influences and trends are being analyzed in order to identify crucial, future related, issues. Furthermore, strategies of how to respond to those issues at an early stage are being developed.

Issues management aims at establishing a balance of different interests. It contains only to a lesser extent the creative search of future markets and in contrast to future management, it entirely waives the development of a vision, goals and corporate strategies.

Example: Early recognition and reaction to the introduction of the deposit of beverage containers by beverage producers.

Management in businesses and other organizations, including not-for-profit organizations and government bodies, refers to the individuals who set the strategy of the organization and coordinate the efforts of employees (or volunteers, in the case of some voluntary organizations) to accomplish objectives by using available human, financial and other resources efficiently and effectively. Resourcing encompasses the deployment and manipulation ofhuman resources, financial resources, technological resources, natural resources and other resources.

A mission describes the long-term function which an organization pursues for its customers in a broad sense. Within the Eltville Model of Future Management, the mission is an object of thought of the yellow futures glasses. It comprises all mission elements and answers the vision question: “What is our organization here for in the future?” A mission consists of mission elements, which have their origin in opportunities.

Example:

  • We reduce the financial consequences of accidents. (Insurance company)
  • We are responsible for the measurement and billing of water and energy consumption. (Techem AG)
  • For management teams, we recognize, explore and develop opportunities in future markets. Thus, we provide competitive advantage by development and growth, secure the  existence of employees and employers and increase the attractiveness of their company. (FMG)

The morphological analysis is a creative and analytic method often used in future management. It helps to systematically and comprehensively identify the panorama of possible futures and perspectives of a system. The goal is to think globally and illustrate all possible answers and their options to particular future questions. The analysis requires the knowledge of the analytic composition of the considered system. The best way is to divide the system with a relevance tree into it’s primary components.

New business development combines all methods used to identify and develop totally new potential and opportunities of an organization.

Business development on the contrary aims at maxing out the whole potential of an organization and enhancing it. The focus is on the expansion of business through new customers or the development of new markets. Future management offers numerous techniques and methods to perform (new) business development systematically and strategically.

A future opportunity is a beneficial option of action. In the Eltville Model of Future Management, future opportunities are systematically developed with the help of the green futures glasses. By using specific opportunity questions relating to particular fields of action, targeted opportunities can be developed, e.g. for marketing and sales, systems and processes, or on business unit level.

Example:

  • We enter the Chinese market
  • We set up a logistics company

Opportunity questions are objects of thought of the Eltville Model of Future Management and are used for the development of future opportunities. Opportunity questions can help determine an organization’s main knowledge requirements about beneficial options of action in crucial fields of action.

Example: What kind of new products and solutions can we develop and offer?

Opportunity Development serves to identify the creatable future and main future opportunities in order to develop new fields of business. Even threats are regarded as opportunities. The future will be screened in regard to own opportunities for action and strategic visions, guidelines, goals, projects, systems and processes will be formed.

If the opportunities are known, actions can be taken earlier and with more effect than competitors can do. The Opportunity Development is looking through the green future glasses of the Eltville Model of Future Management at the environment in a creative and progressive way.

An Opportunity Panorama is a tabulation of Future Opportunities, which should contain the following points:

  • fields of action
  • opportunity questions
  • arguments for and against particular opportunities
  • evaluation of opportunities by decision makers according to one or more criteria
  • Statistical analysis of averages
  • Statistical analysis of distribution

The opportunity radar is used in order to identify opportunities and promising strategies before competitors do. It is based on statements by internal and external actors about promising business fields, business models and strategies as options for action in the future. Opportunity questions can concentrate on only selected future factors or can take into account previously developed projections, scenarios and surprises, depending on goal and time budget.

Key question that seek to be answered are which opportunities and threats to markets, strategies, processes and structures will arise out of probable changes?

A prediction is a statement regarding future events. The terms prediction and forecast are often used as synonyms. A slight difference is sometimes made, assuming that a forecast is rather uncertain while the occurrence of a prediction is assumed certain.

A projection of the future is a statement about the possible condition of an object of observation at a certain point of time in the future (probable and improbable futures).

The special case of a projection linked with a probability of occurrence it is called prediction.

A risk occurs when an actively performed action causes a risky situation. A risk has to be differentiated from a threat. A threat is a passively experienced change of environment which endangers a current position. The opportunity development process (green futures glasses) transforms threats into opportunities.

See also threat

Risk management aims at securing, sustaining, and successfully further developing the organization, taking into account the risks of all management and implementation processes.

Like future management, risk management is looking for future developments in order to implement changes that have been identified as necessary within an organization in a timely manner.

Roadmapping is a method which can be used in future management within the field of implementation. It is applied in order to develop a plan for attaining long-term goals. After a goal has been determined, the requirements for each milestone of the realization of this goal can be identified.
The process of identifying these milestones backwards from goal to present situation is referred to as back casting.

Example:

  • Determination of necessary research achievements in order to develop a new technology.
  • Display of steps in in order to attain a future vision.

A future scenario is a system of projections describing a complex picture of a possible future and (potentially) the way to get there. In futures studies, the scenario method is used to develop several possible futures which are then contrasted with each other.

Strategic search field analysis is a concept used for the identification, analysis, evaluation and selection of new business activities. Through its application it is continually checked if the current business structure still corresponds with the development of the environment or if new approaches should be realized. Search fields comprise an organization’s possible future business areas from where – after evaluating them – new actual business operations are to be selected.

A signal is a piece of information about possible developments and events in the future. It can also support or oppose the existence or effectiveness of a future factor.

Example: 18.5 % of the fifteen year old teenagers in Germany can not read accurately.

Strategy development is the process to determine the future strategy with which to achieve the vision. The vision as well as the future strategy needs to be in the context of the vision and the strategic Guidelines. Strategy development results in the necessary actions, consisting of the strategic goals and the necessary projects, processes and systems .

Strategy questions help to determine the essential required information and decisions and the “best” way to accomplish the mission and to achieve the vision.

In the Eltville Model, strategy development is the process of the violet futures glasses.

A strategic goal is the desired condition of a field of action. This condition is well-defined considering properties and future date.

Example: We will have developed a new branch of business in optoelectronics by the end of next year.

Structural analysis is a method used in futures research in order to study the functionality of complex systems in a precise and as encompassing as possible way. Thus, decisive factors for the system’s evolution can be identified.

A surprise is a projection, development or an event characterized by a low probability but with high effects.

A surprise with an extremely low probability but a very high impact is called Black Swan.

Example:

  • A process-like surprise: Music market without physical sound carrier
  • An event-like surprise: Tsunami of 12/26/2004

Surprise questions define the essential needs for knowledge about possible and high effective surprises in your environment.

Example: How could the demand of our customers suddenly and drastically drop?

In the Eltville Model of Future Management a surprise analysis is conducted in order to prepare for possible surprising events and developments in the future (within the scope of the red futures glasses). Its aim is to transform potential surprises into opportunities.

The purpose of such an analysis is to immunize an organization and its future strategy against those surprises which could possibly threaten the the organization’s strategy or existence. The effects of surprises are regularely over- or underestimated.

After surprise questions have been defined (How could our customers’ demand for our services suddenly fall dramatically?), alternative scenarios on unexpected and/or surprising developments in the environment, as well as scenarios of strategic surprises can be developed. It is important to limit the analysis to the most important potential surprises. Finally, the organization’s and its strategic elements vulnerability can be evaluated and eventual strategies can be developed.

A surprise radar is applied within the framework of a surprise analysis in order to identify possible blind spots of how one perceives the environment and in order to secure oneself against strategic surprises. It is based on statements of think tanks, experts and futurists about surprising, improbable futures.

Actual developments and events can serve as the trigger for developing preventive and eventual strategies. Thereby, surprising and improbable but threatening and important developments can be identified (wild cards).

A system is the entirety of all structures, resources and equipment which is used for implementing and executing projects and processes.

A threat is a passively experienced change of environment which endangers a current position. The opportunity development process (green futures glasses) transforms threats into opportunities. A threat has to be restrained from a risk. A risk occurs when an actively performed action causes a risky situation.

Trend is a commonly used term when talking about the future. In entrepreneurial future management the term defines cumulative events and developments consisting of many similar decisions and movements. Within the Eltville Model of Future Management, trends together with technologies and issues are considered as future factors. A trend is an explicitly directed change of one or more variables within the environment.

Example:

  • The amount of traveled kilometers per person p.a. is increasing.
  • The amount of people living in single-person households is increasing.

Trend extrapolation is a basic method of futures studies. Historic trends are being forecasted through mathematical regression.

Examples: linear and exponential growth, cycles and undulation, combinations of different functions

Synonyms: Time series analysis, rule-based forecasting, quantitative trendextrapolation

Trend impact analysis is a method of futures studies which analyses the impact of possible future events on extrapolated trends, developments, institutions, decisions or strategies. To do so, a trend course is developed and possible future events which could influence this trend are identified. The probabilities, occurrences and impacts of these events are estimated and based on the results new possible, alternative trend courses are identified.

Trend research mostly deals with social trends in order to derive customers’ future needs.
To do so, different methods can be used, such as exponential smoothing or simple regression with time as independent variable.

A utopia is a possible, positive but not feasible future. It mostly describes an advanced, liberal and successful society.

Vision candidates are possible concepts of the organization in the future. They derive from several well rated opportunities and build the basis for the strategic vision.

They can be differentiated by identities, regions, business fields, philosophies or strategic concepts.

Vision development is a methodological step within the Eltville Model of Future Management. The “yellow view” of the vision development sees the aspired future of an organization and is characterized by a critical and visionary way of thinking. The fourth crucial question of future management is picked up in this stage of the Eltville Model: What should the company look like in terms of a strategic vision in five to ten years? The aim is to decide between several possible vision candidates and based on this decision to draw the picture of a fascinating, collectively desired and feasible future.

A strategic vision is the concrete image of a fascinating, collectively desired and feasible future.It consists of vision elements, which have their origin in future opportunities and describe complex and visionary long-term goals.

Example: We are the fastest developer of individual cosmetics in Europe in 2018.

Visioning identifies a desired future and examines the functionality and processes of this future. Visioning is also a method of the Eltville Model of Future Management. In the scope of the yellow futures glasses it provides individual answers to the vision question what the organisation could look like in the year 20XX.
A vision question defines the essential decision needs about your aspired future.

A wargame is a specific simulation which is conducted within the wargaming method. Wargaming is suitable for developing projections and scenarios of surprising developments. Within the Eltville Model of Future Management, wargaming is a method used within the scope of the red futures glasses. Here, participants fend off attacks and strategic moves of their fiercest competitors and other relevant actors (today’s as well as future competitors/actors).

Weak signals are phenomena or developments that hint at the emergence or reversal of a trend or at events in the future. They do not (yet) allow speak for or against the correctness of the assumption.

Example:

  • Kim Jong Un has not been seen in public for 12 weeks.
  • A former Belgian central banker propagates a concept of a global currency pegged to commodities with an inverse interest structure.

Synonyms: Early signals

Wild cards are suddenly occurring surprises.

There are two types of surprises. One is an event-like surprise and the other one is a process-like surprise.  Event-like surprises occur suddenly and are what futurists call wild cards. A well-known example is 9/11 (Terrorist attack on World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington on Sep. 11th, 2001) or the fall of the Berlin Wall on Nov. 9th, 1989. Other event-like surprises could be:

  • Power blackout for several days.
  • The whole management board dies in an accident,
  • A competitor cuts prices about 20%.