The fun of foresighting: Making it relevant for Gen Z and beyond 

30th March 2022
A couple of years ago, just after I joined Imperial and just before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted everything (who’d have seen that coming? Well, let’s just say foresighting could have mitigated some aspects of it…!) I was invited to take part in a week-long initiative that the Enterprise Division delivered to engage with young people from BAME backgrounds, to highlight some of the different ways in which a STEMM education can lead to a range of careers.  The programme – then run with Generating Genius but not brought in-house with our Outreach team – was a fantastic opportunity for me to test some of my foresighting techniques with 16-18 year olds, and it was a great way for them to test me on whether I knew what I was talking about.  This year, we’re running a similar programme starting next week, and I wanted to share a few thoughts about why foresighting with young people is both a science and an art form, both for me and for them. 

Given that I deliver foresighting activities full-time here at the College, and with executives at some of the world’s biggest companies, you might wonder why I would spend time doing the same sorts of exercises with young people who are many, many years away from being in a position to lead those organisations.  

My response:  

Foresighting is for everyone. 

Talking to youngsters about foresight is particularly interesting. On one side they possess untethered imagination, with less constraints than adults. On the other, they haven’t been around much to experience first-hand the various nuances of change happening in the world. 

To explain foresight to them, it is fundamental first to help them develop a large-scale perspective on world’s transformations, to build understanding of how progress reshaped our established reality until today.This will give them an initial structure, a coherent platform from which they can observe the future. From this, we can expose them to cutting-edge change happening in the present, and let their intuition and imagination navigate the possibility of the future. 

Shaping young minds and future leaders 

Practicing Foresight is very beneficial for their mindset. Developing a coherent vision of future opportunity and an intuition for change can help young people chose their life and career paths more wisely. For example, by exploring the possible evolution of certain fields of STEMM, they can have a better understanding of their future potential. In this way, they are more likely to choose the educational path that resonates better with their aspirations and dreams. 

My hope is that they will end the session with a renewed perspective about the future, one that is more encompassing, rich and open to transformation 

Going beyond the probable, into the possible and further 

I aim to guide them beyond the boundaries of their imagination to discover new reality. Through the process of foresight, we can leverage their ingenuity and mental agility to bring forth fresh insights and unexpected connections among fields. This could lead to very interesting and novel conversations, that might differ very much from the usual conversations we have in foresight exercises with the industry. 

Progress through diversity – in all its forms 

Diversity of insights and perspectives are fundamental for successful foresight. Only through the intersection of multiple ways to look at things we can have enough richness and variety of ideas to create exhaustive alternative futures to explore. Whether that’s through the different ages and experiences of the participants, the ethnic, religious or cultural backgrounds or the different problems and challenges people face every day, only through exploring the wide breadth of society – one of the key parts of our STEEPV process that we use with our industry partners – can we fully realise the possibilities that the future possesses.  

Why give it away for free? 

OK, I get it – our valued partners spend thousands of pounds with us every year to access our insights and help them think differently about the problems they face or foresee.  

But one of the key goals of our university is to get more of the insights from our experts out into the real world, either through research partnerships and working with industry, or through policy and education.  

Because our hope is to help guiding the visionary minds of tomorrow, that could choose Imperial College London as the conduit to the development of their talents – contributing to the future excellence of the College. 

Interested in finding out more?  

Whether it’s workshops such as these or understanding how foresight can be used to plan for the future of your organisation, we’d love to hear from you about how we can work together. 

Check out our visionary work – such as the 2041 Scenarios – on our website (, or contact me and the team directly at [email protected]