by Jennifer Coote
“Environmental scanning” is the term for the futurewatching function, used in futures studies and strategic planning conducted by many organisations, academic, private or governmental. However, anyone can futurewatch if they are prepared to make the necessary effort, can access a suitable range of information and can apply themselves to master the skills over a period of time. It is stimulating, at times scary, and provides helpful information about ourselves, our society and our prospects as humans on this planet. For individuals, as well as interested groups and businesses, it is an essential way to anticipate changes, either with protective measures, or to take early advantage of new opportunities. I liken futurewatching to the ways by which the early Polynesian navigators found their way across the vast oceanic waters to find and settle on new islands.