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The Power of Strategic Foresight in Unconscious Bias Modeling


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Unconscious Bias Modeling has skyrocketed over the past several years, becoming one of the top skill sets in today's diverse and complex organizations. Foresight is the most powerful tool in …

Unconscious Bias Modeling has skyrocketed over the past several years, becoming one of the top skill sets in today's diverse and complex organizations. Foresight is the most powerful tool in uncovering biases and assumptions, as well as changing mindsets among individuals and groups for greater productivity, creativity and transformational passion.

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  • 1. Interest in Unconscious Bias Modeling has skyrocketed over the past decade, and for good reason. As the global workforce become increasingly diversified and the speed of change becomes more volatile, our internal blinders to new people, information and ideas have kicked into overdrive. Almost non-existent before 2010, “Unconscious Bias” has now become one of the most searched for business terms on the internet, and the number of organizations training their employees to recognize and manage their internal biases - as well as the consultancies that are creating unconscious bias tools and processes - are multiplying by the day. In a sea of approaches and methods, how can businesses be sure that the training that they choose will have a long-lasting impact on their workforce and create a culture of diversity and open- mindedness? Since the 1950’s, the field of Strategic Foresight has employed bias modeling as a means to exploring greater productivity, insight and creativity across all disciplines. In fact, an authentic application of foresight principles never attempts to create strategy or facilitate change without first creating a mindset of openness and awareness. Just as futures thinking is vital to building insightful action in the present, so bias modeling is a critical part of successful strategic thinking and foresight. For this reason, Kedge has developed a strong expertise around unconscious bias modeling, using it as the starting place for dynamic development and action. Long before the current craze around unconscious bias modeling, foresight professionals were using assumption and bias discovery as a critical element in organizational, cultural and workforce development.
  • 2. Why is the practice of Futures Thinking and Strategic Foresight the best means for uncovering unconscious biases and training individuals to recognize their blind spots? Foresight allows both individuals and the organizational overall to break free from the limitations of present perspectives. When we approach unconscious bias modeling from the landscape of today, we tend to filter any new ideas through the lens of old perspectives. When we are given the tools to think about the future in an immersive, transformative and provocative fashion, we are able to break through the walls of the pasts built up through our present-day perceptions. A new way of thinking first requires a fresh way of seeing or measuring. Attempting to create a different perspective while operating from the confines of old landscapes and definitions is akin to attempting to travel across the globe using nothing but a horse and carriage. Kedge has created a toolkit based on the principals of Strategic Foresight that helps organizations to break through hidden biases, broaden their perspectives, maximize creativity, discover disruptions, and see the world through new eyes. Foresight gives us the personal and collective tools to transport our thinking beyond the boundaries of today, and opens up new vistas of diversity, ability and opportunity.
  • 3. Most know that our assumptions and biases, if left unchecked, can quickly become barriers to our diversity and inclusion efforts; however, many do not realize the role these unconscious blinders can play in thwarting innovation efforts. Employing Strategic Foresight allows us to maximize and optimize creativity for more successful unconscious bias work. Similar to the constraints we face when we seek to free our thinking when limited by our current knowledge, unlocking our creativity is impossible when all we know to be true is what we can presently hear, see, and touch. Alternatively, when we are allowed to play within the context of future worlds and visions, we can imagine designs and experiences much different form the ones we are familiar and comfortable with today. Strategic Foresight allows us to immerse ourselves in these future worlds, transporting us to new landscapes of creative thought and action. Rather than attempting to maximize creativity by questioning biases within the confines of our established settings - where our unconscious beliefs have worn a deep and familiar trench - foresight allows us to uncover those biases by delving into unfamiliar futures. When we are thrust into stories of the future, we are less likely to attempt to hide or mask our biases that are supported by our present realities, even if those biases are subconscious. Kedge has developed bias modeling tools that help organizations to explore creative ideas and landscapes outside of our comfort zones, releasing us from the biases of our traditional viewpoints and granting us the freedom to create worlds that we have yet to imagine. When we break past our biases, we open up to different ways of perceiving the world around us, When this happens, our creativity is unleashed.
  • 4. Strategic Foresight serves as a powerful vehicle in Unconscious Bias Modeling by first unveiling and developing the narratives hidden within an organization. Since the dawn of man, stories have been a fundamental tool for understanding people, conveying new ideas, or accepting change. In today’s environment of transformation, leaders are increasingly realizing that businesses are driven by their organization’s overarching stories but they are also noting that these stories are buried underneath layers of well-meaning but over-prescribed, antiquated processes. In this era of exponential change it is imperative that organizations purposefully strive to unleash their stories, so that they may build a culture of intentional development and growth. When an organization does not fully employ the story that is defining its culture, strategy and processes, it is nearly impossible to enact any deep or lasting change. Without knowing the dynamics and direction of our story, we cannot possibly hope to successfully implement new thinking or action into the organization. Strategic Foresight reveals the dynamics of an organization’s driving narrative by going far beyond the surface level actions and systems that characterize the everyday operations. Through uncovering the deeper values and unconscious metaphors within an organization, foresight creates a pathway into intentional story development, enabling every individual to understand why things work the way they do, how change can be successfully implemented, and what aspirational goals will take the business into future. The hidden biases and assumptions of our guiding narrative will overpower any change that we desire to make, and new initiatives will be met with frustration and failure.
  • 5. Few would argue that today’s environment of accelerating volatility and exponential change is disrupting paradigms in every domain. However, our deeply engrained biases and assumptions prevent us from recognizing these disruptions and taking action to capitalize on them. Throw in the fact that the majority of disturbances to our present business models will come from outside of our industry, and we quickly realize that Unconscious Bias Modeling must become our number one priority. Strategic Foresight helps us to look past our present-day models and ideas, acting as the most effective way to recognize disruptors on the horizon of business and society. The very heart of foresight is centered around uncovering emerging ideas, experiences and environments that will make our present strategies and models obsolete. When we try to identify these disruptors from our present positions, it is impossible to break free from linear and incremental thinking. For this reason, traditional approaches to unconscious bias modeling do not help participants to think and act disruptively - a critical skill in this age of radical change. Leaders often mistakenly believe that stories about the future that stretch us beyond the probable and plausible are a waste of time, choosing instead to create a linear, “official” future that serves only as a blinder to the change that is certain to come. Ignoring the provocative future stops us from exploring unfamiliar territories and concepts that will ultimately disrupt our traditional ways of doing business. In provocative visions of the future, our biases and comfort zones have nowhere to hide, and we are forced to examine the “emerging unknown.” One of the best ways to uncover our biases around disruptive change is to immerse ourselves into provocative visions of the future.
  • 6. Futures Thinking tools develop present-day awareness. Kedge is a minority-owned foresight, innovation, creativity, and strategic design consultancy. We help our clients to thrive in a world of complex ideas and practices, uncover emerging trends on the horizon that will impact their business, and discover unseen opportunities for strategic advantage and development. • iSee: A Game of Facts and Perceptions - leverages images, ideas and information ripped from today’s headlines to demonstrate how we unconsciously filter the data around us. • Ripples of Change: Cultivate, Expand and Transform – reframes conversations about change by exploring the power of natural growth curves. • Narrative Transformation – uncovers an organization’s current story (inclusive of themes and images) before providing a map to brand new narratives. • Headlines from the Future – allows individuals and teams to craft creative scenarios of the future based on the unconscious interpretation of today’s trends. • Design Fiction – demonstrates the power of provocative futures in revealing blind spots. Unconscious Bias Modeling: Tools and Offerings Kedge offerings are customized based on client objectives and desired workshop length. All sessions are interactive and include reusable tools and templates. A sampling of Kedge Unconscious Bias Modeling offerings includes: Please contact us for more details on any of our tools and workshops or to request a proposal. 407.973.1172