WEAK SIGNALS

If you only focus on the megatrends, the emerging changes may go unnoticed. Therefore, Sitra offers tools for recognising weak signals and expanding the visions of the future.

About signals

Weak signals are the first indicators of changes that may become significant in the future. We will be introducing new interpretations of the signals to support future-oriented work for the remainder of 2018.

The interpretations provide an opportunity to enrich future scenarios – they are not always possible or final. Read more about the interpretations and signals below.

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What is it about?

As the world changes, it is important for all societal actors to remain vigilant about potential future trends. Sitra’s future work has included societal analysis on megatrends since 2011. When identifying current and clearly evident developmental paths – trends or megatrends – : one which requires preparations for the coming changes.

Analysing trends and preparing for the future can be supplemented by analysing weak signals. A weak signal is the first indicator of change or an arising issue that may become significant in the future. They can be used to challenge assumptions made about the future, expand future scenarios and create a more practical view of the future using examples.

What do we do?

Sitra’s signal work presents potential future development paths that are often surprising and not always obvious. The aim of the work is to highlight assumptions about the future, to challenge future perceptions and expand the range of potential future scenarios, and to offer tools for utilising weak signals. Weak signals supplement Sitra’s megatrends and vision work.

The signals were accumulated throughout 2018 by monitoring the media, workshops, blogs and Twitter accounts that cover the future and previously collected signal data. The signals can be reviewed

After the signals were collected, they were categorised and interpreted at the Foresight Monday  organised by the National Foresight Network, in addition to expert workshops. The aim of the interpretation work was to examine in greater detail what an individual signal or collection of signals could mean from different perspectives, while at the same time highlighting the most thought-provoking signal clusters that could affect future scenarios and their potential impacts. When selecting signals and topics attention was paid to diversity, and the selection was not intended to be a comprehensive description of all potential weak signals.

Articles, blogs with more background information and other materials are available on this page. In early 2019, we will be publishing a report on the interpretations of the signals and any associated questions and observations.

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