Baseline Forecast

Before you begin:

These are assignments that I have turned in for my TECH 4310 Future of Energy and Environment class, these are my own thoughts and you may not take them without citing them. I will not post them all, but a majority of them.

The book that this reflection is on is titled Thinking About the Future; Guidelines for Strategic Foresight  edited by Andy Hines and Peter Bishop.

The official baseline forecast compares current and past values and assumptions held by an organization or an individual, and projects them into the future. For instance, in general, professors do not accept assignments turned in after the due date. However, most of the time, these baseline forecasts are almost always wrong.

Once you hold that assumption, the first step to creating a new future is to identify drivers of change and the uncertainties. For example, the amount of work required for each class and the time it requires to complete it will vary each week. This would be an uncertainty, albeit a short term one.

In starting a foresight activity, its best to identify and understand the social, technological, economic, environmental, and political factors: otherwise known as STEEP. To do this, it is helpful to seek out experts and credible literature and ensure diversity in team members and that there is respect amongst them. This can include the “weirdos”, “fringe people”, or the “nerds” that might have a different perspective on what and how anomalies are changing. Changes occur at different levels: the deeper layers and types of change, such as worldviews, values, and belief systems, take a long time and are difficult to achieve. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the highest layer, are superficial and rapid, like the amount of time required for my classes each week. By further exploring all of the assignments or which classes have upcoming tests, I can accurately divide my limited resource, my time, into days or hours needed per subject, activity, or assignment.

The next thing to do would be to assess fundamental shifts, outside forces that shake the organization or individuals to the core, which could occur. When doing this, senior management and key decision makers need to be involved. For instance, an outside force that totally diverts time away from my study schedule is unknowable to me or anyone else, and when such an event occurs, I should inform my professors of the disruptive, but temporary, issue. For instance, at the beginning of Week 5 of this semester, I knew that I had an assignment for one class, a difficult homework assignment for another, a test that I needed to study for, and I had to read two chapters from two books (two classes, this one included), and it all was due by Monday and Tuesday of the next week. I allocated myself a certain amount of time for each activity based on the level of importance: studying for a test comes before completing a difficult problem set for homework, which come before completing the less challenging assignments, which comes before reading assignments, which come before writing my response for this chapter. This has pretty much been the structure of study for my entire schooling career, and this will only stop being relevant when I finally graduate. Of course, all of this comes after personal and family obligations, such as my mother’s birthday in the middle of the week, attending seminars which challenge me to think in new ways about the Arctic the day after that, and an unscheduled emergency doctor’s appointment.

The authors make it a point to inform us that we should use at least one formal method of forecasting the future, and if we are trying it for the first time that we should inform the clients. To continue with my example, this is my first attempt at using any forecasting method to predict a future in which I receive a grade for completing my assignment past the due date.

While reading the section titled “Provoke New Lines of Thinking with Creative Approaches and Tools”, I came to the conclusion that I should complete my response to this chapter and turn it in with the hopes of receiving credit. I imagined first nature, where the Earth reacts to changes and most of the time those reactions are “late”, meaning they sometimes have a delay period, such as the daily heating cycle of the earth: while at local noon you receive the most amount of solar radiation (this determines the temperature of the earth), it is not until a few hours later when we reach our daily high temperature. When discovering the Science Fiction archetype, I had a moment of inspiration, because science fiction writers are the ones who think of the future first. Examples include the credit card, first envisioned by Edward Bellamy’s 1888 book titled Looking Backward, or manned space flight and landing on the moon which were first written about in the 1800s by Jules Verne, etc. So I decided this response would be part science fiction and mostly true. I get a grade for such a thorough understanding of chapter 3 (the science fiction part) and the truth: I was overloaded with school work and all of a sudden a discontinuity was thrown at me, I had to write 5 pages worth of amendments to the Constitution for the club I’m in, Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists Student Chapter at University of Houston, and personal obligations were thrown at me at a rate previously unexpected, and possibly unrivaled.

Then I reached the “Go Beyond Brainstorming” section, and remembered all the brainstorming sessions prior to college, and how horrible they all ended. When I came across Gene Anderson’s bold approach of tossing out the ideas that come from brainstorming, I myself had a bold idea that I had not yet thought of. I had fully intended to read chapter 3, but I had not planned on writing this because it was obviously past the due date. My idea, however, was to ignore the fact that it would be late because someone has undoubtedly thought of that already. My idea was to write a response that was not only a thorough response, but would also explain the details concerning why it was late and forecasting a preferable future for myself and my grade. I would creatively change your mind, or at least have fun trying to do so, within the confined set of rules that you as the professor had set. After I had finished reading the chapter, my brain was so focused on the fact that this was late that I had to just step away from my problem and come back with a fresh set of eyes, and a new frame of mind.

Before I started writing this response, I consulted with many people important to me, including someone who wrote a paper and got a B for it, titled, The Use of Rhetoric to Obscure a Lack of Content, about my bold idea to write all of this. Some looked at me like I was insane, or had a second head, but a few thought it would, at the very least, explain my circumstances and show that I was dedicated to completing all of my assignments, no matter the due date or what discontinuities came my way.

My “future workshop” included a very small number of people, one, and it was obvious what was bothering me: this incomplete assignment hanging over my head. Perhaps I could craft a response so creative that it would cause you to reconsider any policy you have on turning in late assignments. I understand that you don’t even have to read this, or might not even be reading this, that you do not have to give me a grade other than a zero, or that you could reduce the grade I would have gotten to whatever you want to because you’re the professor and you set the rules. This is an obstacle for me to overcome, and the only real way to overcome this, in my opinion, is to do the assignment anyway, and do it in a way that would inspire you to take pity on a busy student with many difficulties to overcome.

While many would say, “just skip the assignment ‘cause the due date has passed already”, I do not ascribe to that worldview and thus felt compelled to finish what I began. I figured that since I would need these reflections to complete my book review for the portfolio due at the end of the semester, that even if I did not get a grade, it would still be beneficial to complete the discussion assignment for chapter 3.

I found this chapter to be longer than expected but very enlightening, at time entertaining, and sometimes frustratingly difficult to get through. However, it challenged me to write this despite already being late if my preferable future comes true, you will enjoy this response so much that you consider giving me at least partial credit.


One thought on “Forecasting

  1. Pingback: Creating a Vision: What Could Happen? – Sharp Enterprises

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