Genus uses history to inform the future. A good futurist is also a good historian.

" He who drives his car through the rear-view mirror, never sees the future!

" He who doesn't read history will repeat past mistakes!"

This method endeavors to use the above maxims to utilize past learning to create new futures.

Uses of the method

  • re-designing products and services
  • understanding consequences of future decisions based on past experiences
  • understanding the past to project better futures


  • Avoiding repeating past mistakes
  • Taking the best of the past forward
  • Relatively fast and cheap to do
  • A good springboard and starting point for conducting a future study


  • Only really useful if used with other methods

Steps to complete

  • Describe where, when the phenomena was first identified and by who.
  • Create a short genealogy of the issue commenting on how it has morphed over time. e.g. 5, 10, 25, 50, 100 years.
  • Identify precedents of when this issue has maybe happened before elsewhere.
  • Look for issues on parallel tracks that might better inform similar and dissimilar futures.
  • Describe what caused this issue and what it is a part of and what it belongs to.
  • Write down what key positive and negative remembrances from the above analysis that must be considered in any future design.
  • Look forward and describe how this issue might evolve.
  • Now retrofit the issue with new capabilities identified in your analysis to transform to a new solution.
  • Determine the fixed elements (almost certain hard trends) that will inform your strategic response: slow-changing phenomena e.g. demographic shifts, constrained situations e.g. resource limits, in the pipeline e.g. aging of baby boomers, inevitable collisions e.g. climate change arguments.
  • Capture critical variables i.e. uncertainties, soft trends and potential surprises. Both these and the fixed elements will be key to creating scenarios and examining potential future paradigm shifts.
  • Capture unique insight into new ways of seeing that can be utilized by the organization.
  • What conclusions can we draw from the exercise(s)?
    • How might the future be different?
    • How does A affect B?
    • What is likely to remain the same or change significantly?
    • What are the likely outcomes?
    • What and who will likely shape our future?
    • Where could we be most affected by change?
    • What might we do about it?
    • What don't we know that we need to know?
    • What should we do now, today?
    • Why do we care?
    • When should we aim to meet on this?
  • Develop next steps and determine if any further research required

This method and your response can be shared with other members or kept private using the 'Privacy' field and through the 'Tag', 'Report' and 'Forum' functionalities. Use 'Tag' and/or 'Report' to aggregate your analyzes, or add a 'Forum' to ask others where they agree/disagree and encourage them to make their own analysis from their unique vantage point.

Click the 'Invite tab to send invitations to other members or non-members (colleagues, external experts etc.) to ask for their input. You can whether or not you want anonymous responses.  These can be viewed and exported within the Responses tab.

Developed over a coffee by Ivy Ng, MTI, Singapore and Shaping Tomorrow (October 2010, Singapore)

Contact us
Even with all the advice and tools we have provided here starting a foresight project from scratch can be a daunting prospect to a beginner. Let us know if you need help with this method or want a group facilitation exercise or full project or program carrying out by us. We promise to leave behind more internal knowledgeable people who can expand your initiative for better organizational performance.

Contact us today for a free discussion on your needs.

Are there other enhancements or new methods you would like to see here? Let us know and we will do our best to respond with a solution quickly.

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