Weak signals- hints about the future

Report
Weak signalswhat are they
and how can
they be
identified?
Elina Hiltunen,
Futurist,
Nokia,
Corporate Strategy
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Copyright Elina Hiltunen, email: [email protected]
A weak signal definition (Kuusi et al, 2000,
based on a delphoi Sudy, N=19)
The most supported weak future signal:
A weak future signal is an early warning of change, which typically
becomes stronger by combining with other signals. The significance of
a weak future signal is determined by the objectives of its recipient,
and finding it typically requires systematic searching. A weak future
signal requires: i) support, ii) critical mass, iii) growth of its influence
space, and dedicated actors, i.e. ‘the champions’, in order to become
a strong future signal, or to prevent itself from becoming a strong
negative signal. A weak future signal is usually recognised by
pioneers or special groups not by acknowledged experts.
Kuusi, O., Hiltunen, E. and Linturi, H. (2000) Heikot tulevaisuussignaalit –
Delfoi tutkimus (Weak signals- a Delphi study). Futura, Vol. 2., 78-92.
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Antidefinition for weak signal
An ‘anti-definition’ of weak future signal:
It is crucial for the credibility of a weak future signal that it comes from
acknowledged experts, and those experts are also most able to
recognize weak signals. A weak future signal is not dependent on an
interpreter, i.e. it is an objective phenomenon. The weak future signal
anticipates processes that have radical impacts on future and it typically
includes a sign, which needs to be seized immediately. An important
weak future signal strengthens by itself over time, since it is an early
warning of a general rising trend.
Kuusi, O., Hiltunen, E. and Linturi, H. (2000) Heikot tulevaisuussignaalit –
Delfoi tutkimus (Weak signals- a Delphi study). Futura, Vol. 2., 78-92.
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Moijanen, 2003, criticized the previous
study:
Property of weak signal
Different views
1.
Transition phenomenon
- A weak signal is the same as the transition
phenomenon, that is going to get stronger or weaker
in the future
- A phenomenon interpreted as a weak signal is
triggering changes
- A weak signal is a sign of changes in the future (a
consequence of something that already exists)
2.
Duration of a weak signal
Weak signals lasts only a moment:
1) Weak signals seen as a sign that lasts for a
moment, but a phenomenon behind it lasts longer
OR
2) Weak signals are phenomena that last for a short
time (wild cards?)
Weak signal lasts longer:
1) A weak signal is a cause for a change in the future
2) A weak signal is a phenomenon itself
3.
objectivity/subjectivity of a
signal
- Weak signals are independent of their receiver.
“Weak signals float in the phenomena space and
wait for someone to find them”
- A weak signal does not exist without a receiver
(and the interpretation of the receiver) of it.
- Interpretation adds subjectivity to the signal - even
though it is thought to be objective. The
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interpretation of a same signal can be different from
4.
Different ways to interpret
the same signal
- A weak signal does not exist without a receiver
(and the interpretation of the receiver) of it.
4.
Different ways to interpret
the same signal
- Interpretation adds subjectivity to the signal - even
though it is thought to be objective. The
interpretation of a same signal can be different from
the point of view of the different receivers of the
signal.
4b
Strengthening of a weak
signal
- The weak signal (as a sign) itself is strengthening
- A phenomenon, interpreted as weak signal, is
strengthening
- A phenomenon whose change is in question, is
strengthening
5.
Receivers/observers/
analysts of the signal
- Differences in the opinion in who is the receiver or
observer of the signal: experts, special groups etc.
- Difficulties in defining the concept expert
6.
Who analyses and draws the
conclusions?
- Who is drawing the conclusions on the cause-effect
relationship?
-Who is defining the credibility and significance of
weak signal?
-Who is the one that can affect the decisions
concerning the future?
M. Moijanen, Heikot signaalit tulevaisuuden tutkimuksessa
(Weak signals in futures studies), Futura, Vol 4, (2003) 38-60.
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What are Weak Signals?????
• What are differences between weak signals and
wild cards?
• Are weak signals just signs of emerging issue or are
they emerging issues by themselves?
• How to define the weakness of a signal?
• Is it possible that a weak signal is interpreted as
strong and weak at the same time by different
actors?
• How is the change happening and how are weak
signals related to it?
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Weak Signals and Wild Cards- relation
Wild card
events
Wild card scenarios
Scenario A
Weak signals
Past
Present
Future
Elina Hiltunen, Was It a Wild Card or just our Blindness to Gradual Change?
Journal of Future Studies, Nov. 2006, 11 (2), 61-74.
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=scenarios that are emphasized by an
imaginary, low probability, surprising event
that has dramatic consequences
Scenario B
H&M selling used clothes in some of their storesA weak signals or not??
+ only few cases (about 2% of the stores)
- A big news story in the main Finnish news paper many people know
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Elina, Hiltunen,
The Future Sign and Its Three Dimensions,
Futures
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Weak signal: sign or emerging issue?
A Strong
sign
signal
The amount of
Strengthening of a sign
Information,
Visibility of signals
interpretation
Understanding of the
meaning of the issue for
A Weak sign
the future
issue
The number/
10
percentage of cases
Copyright Elina Hiltunen, email: [email protected]
signal
Case
Nokia
Case
H&M
interpretation
issue
Distance from the origin = strength of the sign:
distance from the origin, Case H&M
distance from the origin, Case Nokia
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Total sign
strength
Weak signal: Objective or subjective??
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Future oriented signification process
(i.e. weak signals in process of change)
Exosign= signal in outside
the world (objective)
Primary exosign= first
Exosignal
Secondary exosign=
Kuusi
and
Hiltunen,
2007
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Exosign that was interpreted
Endosign= signal in our mind
(includes interpretation),
subjective
What are Weak Signals?????
• What are differences between weak signals and wild cards? Wild
cards are big events, weak signals are “small” signs new, fairly rare
events
• Are weak signals just signs of emerging issue or are they emerging
issues by themselves? WS=Signs of emerging issues
• How to define the weakness of a signal? By defining the amount of
info available on the emerging issues (little information= weak signal,
much information= strong signal)
• Is it possible that a weak signal is interpreted as strong and weak at
the same time by different actors? Signals are objective, but
observation is many times limited
• How is the change happening and how are weak signals related to it?
signification process explains this
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What is the role of weak signals in
organizational futures learning
process?
How to disseminate?
Organizational
Learning- combining
the models of
Barr et al., 1992,
March and Olen, 1979,
Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995
From where
Weak signals?
Purpose of weak signals: help to anticipate and innovate the futures!
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Study for futurists (N=121)-sources of
weak signals
Forewords for the study:
Study about sources of information on future
This is a global study about information sources of weak signals for futures
professionals and people interested in the future in general. The aim of this study
is to find out where futures professionals and future-oriented people collect
information that can foretell changes in the future (i.e. weak signals). The study is
conducted by Ms. Elina Hiltunen from Finland Futures Research Centre as a part of
her Ph.D. thesis. The results of the study will be available for all participants on
request by email: [email protected] Your participation in the study is highly
appreciated!
Definition of weak signals:
In this study, weak signals mean today’s information that can foretell the
changes in the future. This information might sound funny or strange and
it can cause confusion, because it offers a totally new way of
thinking/idea/innovation. As time passes, it might come out that weak
signals were the first signs or symptoms of a big change, even
megatrends. However, weak signals are not always clues about big
changes. They might simply be information about strange things that have
happened. A practical example of weak signals is an article about some
new technical innovation in a magazine
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The logic of the questionnaire in this study
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Page 1.
introduction to the study, definition of weak
signals
Page 2.
-area of life which changes follows the
most(PESTEEF)
bacground information
- age
- gender
- continent
- occupation
- experience in looking at the future
- produced material
- timescale in looking at future
- good sources of weak signals in that area
- the best source, why?
- the second best source, why?
Page 3.
-area of life which changes follows the second
most(PESTEEF)
- good sources of weak signals in that area
- the best source, why?
- the second best source, why?
Page 4.
-comments about good sources of weak
signals
- comments about the questionnaire
Copyright Elina Hiltunen, email: [email protected]
International study for Futurists
about good sources for weak
signals
Scan the Scanners
6
7
8
9
10
N=118
11
12
number
13
of order A good source for weak signals
13
1
scientist/researchers
15
2
futurists
16
3
colleagues
17
4
academic and scientific journals
17
5
reports of research institutes
19
6
consultants in other area than futures
20
7
popular science and economic magazines
21
8
television/ radio
22
9
educational and scientific books
23
10
Internet: companies' or organizations' web pages24
11
ordinary people (e.g. observing them)
25
12
media people
26
13
Internet: electric journals
27
13
Internet: homepages of individual people/consultants
28
15
email newsletters
29
16
science fiction movies, books etc.
29
17
government and other public sector reports
31
Note:
for
different
areas
of
life
17
Internet: discussion groups
32
19
Internet:sources
blogs
33
different
were preferred!!!
20
marginal/underground press
34
Read
more
here:
21
periodicals
35
Elina Hiltunen, Where Do Future Oriented People Find Weak Signals?
22FFRC eBooklocal
36
2/2007.newspapers
Finland Futures Research Centre,
Turku
School
of
Economics.
40
s.
ISBN
978-951-564-452-7.,
available
online
23
Internet: electric databases
24
government officials
25 18
email lists
Copyright Elina Hiltunen, email: [email protected]
consultants in other area than futures
popular science and economic magazines
television/ radio
educational and scientific books
Internet: companies' or organizations' web pages
ordinary people (e.g. observing them)
media people
Internet: electric journals
Internet: homepages of individual people/consulta
email newsletters
science fiction movies, books etc.
government and other public sector reports
Internet: discussion groups
Internet: blogs
marginal/underground press
periodicals
local newspapers
Internet: electric databases
government officials
email lists
movies
artists
market research studies
politicians
annual reports of companies
family/friends
patents
doctoral dissertations
proposals for laws
other source?
art exhibitions
different categories of sources
100 %
23,7
26,6
33,7
32,3
33,3
32,7
80 %
26,3
60 %
percent
31,3
29,3
28,4
30,9
31,2
35,8
36,1
technology and
science
environment
online
textual
human
40 %
50,0
20 %
42,0
37,0
39,3
economics
society and culture
0%
politics
area of life
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Copyright Elina Hiltunen, email: [email protected]
learning
human sources:
colleagues,
scientist/researchers in universities or institutes
futurists
consultants in other area than futures
politicians
government officials
media people
artists
family/friends
"ordinary people" (e.g. observing them)
Online sources
Internet: companies' or organizations' web pages
Internet: homepages of individual people/consultants
Internet: electric databases
Internet: electric journals
Internet: blogs
Internet: discussion groups
email newsletters
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Copyright Elina Hiltunen, email: [email protected]
Textual sources:
educational and scientific books
academic and scientific journals
popular science and economic magazines and papers
periodicals, which?
marginal/underground press
local newspapers
doctoral dissertations
patents
government and other public sector reports
annual reports of companies
reports of research institutes
proposals for laws
market research studies
television/ radio
movies
art exhibitions
science fiction movies, books etc.
Comments
• Interaction, openness and discussion needed to find ws:s
• Working with different kind of people helps!
• Weak signals not from single source but many
• Look for various sources with wide coverage and preferably in different areas of
life
• Combining information from many sources important
• keeping eyes open, having sensitivity to changes, creativity, receptiveness,
intuition and a curious mind is needed to find weak signals of change
• it is not the sources of weak signals that are important, but rather the processing
of them
• On a personal level sense-making processes for weak signals is much to do with
scanning the changes, using intuition and feelings and interacting with other
people
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the Futures’ Window- a tool for
disseminating weak signals in organizations
Elina Hiltunen, The Futures Window – A Medium for Presenting
Visual Weak Signals to Trigger Employees’ Futures Thinking
in Organizations, HSE Publications, working paper- w-423, 2007, available online
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Pilot 1.
100,0
In my opinion, it is important
to to think in a
futures oriented
way in my work.
90,0
The Futures Window
could be a useful activator
of futures thinking
in my own work.
80,0
procentage of respondents
70,0
60,0
50,0
It should be possible
for all employees
to send images to
the Futures Window.
In VTT there could be
Futures Windows
for example in
canteens and coffee rooms.
Futures Window gave
me new ideas
about the future.
The Futures Window gave
me new ideas about the
possibilities of the
technology area that
I am working with
in the future.
40,0
30,0
20,0
10,0
0,0
FD SD SA FA
claim 1
?
FD SD SA FA
claim 2
?
FD SD SA FA
?
FD SD SA FA
claim 3
claim 4
?
FD SD SA FA
claim 5
?
FD SD SA FA
claim 6
claims and answers
FD= fully disagree, SD= somehow disagree, SA=somehow agree,
FA= fully agree, ?= cannot say
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?
Images that stuck to people’s mind
Reason
Number of times
mentioned by
respondents
It irritated me
It was a new thing to me
It amazed me
7
10
5
It made me laugh
It raised my interest
It raised positive feelings
8
16
24
It raised negative feelings
Some other reason
18
11
25
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Futures Windows in the Health and Wellness fair
In Helsinki, October, 2008
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My academic articles/ papers:
•
Elina Hiltunen, Was It a Wild Card or just our Blindness to Gradual Change?
Journal of Future Studies, Nov. 2006, 11 (2), 61-74.
•
Elina, Hiltunen, The Future Sign and Its Three Dimensions, Futures, Futures
Volume 40, Issue 3, April 2008, Pages 247-260
•
Osmo Kuusi and Elina Hiltunen, The Signification Process of the Future Sign,
FFRC eBooks 4/2007. Finland Futures Research Centre, Turku School of
Economics. 24 p. ISBN 978-951-564-510-4.
•
Elina Hiltunen, Good Sources for Weak Signals: A Global Study of Where
Futurists Look For Weak Signals, Journal of Future Studies, May 2008,
12(4):21-44.
•
Elina Hiltunen, The Futures Window – A Medium for Presenting Visual Weak
Signals to Trigger Employees’ Futures Thinking in Organizations, HSE
Publications, working paper- w-423, 2007
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Copyright Elina Hiltunen, email: [email protected]
Thank you!
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Copyright Elina Hiltunen, email: [email protected]

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