BSR Sustainable Futures Lab
The Sustainable Futures Lab was created to enable foresight-driven engagement with disruptive change in order to help businesses spot emerging issues early, explore different possible futures, and develop more resilient and sustainable strategies.
What Is Futures Thinking?
Strategic foresight, also known as futures thinking, provides a structured approach that enables people and organizations to overcome cognitive biases and think more realistically about change. It helps us uncover blind spots, imagine radically different futures, and improve decision-making today. Futures thinking also builds broader capacity within an organization to understand and engage with sustainability and can provide a platform for internal alignment and collaboration among sustainability teams and other strategic functions.
The Case for Futures Thinking
Profound and accelerating changes, such as climate disruption, artificial intelligence, and automation, are rapidly transforming the landscape for business and sustainability. Companies can no longer assume that the past will be a good predictor of the future, and those that fail to anticipate and prepare for radically new possibilities may face sudden irrelevance.
Conventional approaches to strategic planning that rely on single-point forecasts run the risk of offering precision at the expense of accuracy and are inadequate to comprehend and prepare business for truly disruptive change. Given we do not have data from the future, different ways of thinking are required to prepare for the possibilities.
How We Can Help
Sustainable Futures Lab Service Offerings
BSR’s Sustainable Futures Lab was created to enable foresight-driven engagement with disruptive change in order to help businesses spot emerging issues early, explore different possible futures, and develop more resilient and sustainable strategies.
Scenario planning is a rigorous futures methodology enabling organizations to engage with uncertainty and ensure that strategic planning is robust across a wide range of possible future developments. It is based on the development and exploration of future scenarios—a set of plausible alternate futures in which today’s decisions may play out. These can then be used to test and improve strategy, drive innovation, and guide planning.
TCFD Climate Scenario Analysis
In 2017, the FSB Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) issued recommendations that public companies undertake a process of climate scenario analysis, both for understanding strategic implications of climate-related risks and opportunities and for informing stakeholders about how the organization is positioning itself in light of these risks and opportunities. This special application of scenario planning not only provides useful information to investors, lenders, insurers, and other stakeholders, but also offers a valuable method to ensure a company’s strategy is resilient to climate-related physical, liability, and transition risks.
Traditional materiality assessments are a useful tool to bring clarity and alignment around sustainability priorities, but typically take a short-term perspective. A future-proofing process can be used to stress test material issues against plausible future developments in order to understand how key issues will change over time, ensure that significant emerging issues are not missed, identify potential blind spots that require attention, and develop more robust planning. For businesses that have already conducted a standard materiality assessment, this is an excellent next step to ensure that priorities are fit for the future and an easy way to start to integrate strategic foresight into sustainability strategy.
Strategic Foresight Intensive
The Strategic Foresight Intensive takes a cross-functional group of business leaders through a half-day interactive workshop, led by the Director of BSR's Sustainable Futures Lab, to introduce them to the fundamentals of strategic foresight, review megatrends reshaping the landscape for business and sustainability, discuss patterns and dynamics of change, explore emerging issues confronting the business, and identify areas requiring attention. It is designed to help senior decision-makers better understand the strategic value of sustainability, learn how to do futures thinking, and prioritize issues facing the business that most require strategic foresight.
Who We Work With
Depth of Experience and Knowledge
Our Sustainable Futures Lab team consists of global experts across multiple focus areas, bringing a depth of experience and knowledge to integrating human rights and sustainability strategies.