How to use qualified visionary force to describe the future
Data and facts build the foundation of the Foresight Academy’s look into the future. Inputs on contextual change drivers – from societal factors to technology, from the environment to cultural trends – also inform the project. Dialogues with Trend Receivers are a core element of the process. After making sense of all the data, schematic pictures of desirable futures emerge. They are then the foundation of inspiring storytelling – and effective knowledge transfer.


Define the boundaries of your research. Move from challenges to areas of interest and specific research questions.
Search the margins of the known environment for signals of change.
Turn your key questions into tentative predictions which encompass your unvalidated assumptions.
Hit the field to gather new data which your scanning has as yet not answered. E.g. Trend Receiver research.
Sensemake the data from all inputs. Identify patterns to develop insights. These can be a springboard for future possibilities and ideation.
Make your new knowledge work for you by sharing it within your organization. This can include visual, story or interactive formats.


The process guiding our methodology includes six steps, as illustrated in the diagram. The first three take place before hitting the field and involve broad and profound analysis of data, facts and figures. The subsequent dialogue step for the Foresight Academy is the Trend Receiver (TR) method.

Whilst linear, the Foresight Academy methodology is an iterative process. You may find yourself revisiting the Scan step consciously to better understand a trend, or offer further support for a hypothesis. Or you may be faced with signals serendipitously in daily life, and this may in turn implicate the questions you want to ask. There is a lot of logic in our methodology. It is very rigorous in terms of the depth of secondary research recommended to ground the hypotheses.

A lot of thought goes into the profile of the interview candidates, and the role of scanning in the Dialogue step to optimize the insights found. The Transfer step is a critical part of this process. In fact, though it is the last step in the process, we consider how we can best transfer insights right from the outset. We view the Transfer stage as the beginning of something bigger. Something meaningful.
Open ears,
open eyes,
open mind,
open heart.


We employ Trend Receiver research (Hofmann 2014, Hahn et al. 2016, Schweitzer et al. 2019) as part of the Foresight Academy methodology. Trend Receivers have connections in many contexts and have discerning views of what drives people and what aspects are undergoing change. They typically have links with both art & business. In fact, they have six main competencies which, combined, allow them to receive, filter, process, contemplate, and classify signals of change.

Trend Receivers combine their own user and everyday experience with high mental agility, interest in new influences and dynamics of change.
First, Trend Receivers have a thorough understanding of the given context by own consumption and usage experience and thus know the motives and values of consumers interacting with it first-hand.

Second, while they do use their preferences and emotions as reference points, Trend Receivers have the ability to self-abstract and understand the needs of other consumer groups in the same way. They want to understand their own and others’ patterns.

Third, in general, Trend Receivers are interested in consumer habits, lifestyle issues and the differentiation among social backgrounds through consumption. They have high curiosity about people from backgrounds to which they do not belong. They are networked in many ways and have extensive access to different ways of thinking and broad and international sources of information.

Fourth, in addition, Trend Receivers have a strong desire to understand causes and correlations. They are not satisfied until they have identified causalities and assessed their significance. Therefore, they have also sharpened their competence to filter and perceive which structures, motives and values remain stable and to what extent new behavior patterns can develop. Essentially, trend receivers have the ability to recognize analogies and paradigms.

Fifth, Trend Receivers often exhibit biographical discontinuities that allow them to take a multiple look at their environment and to be sensitive to its complexity. They know from their own experience that the future cannot simply be derived from the present as a logical continuation, but that surprising changes are always possible.

Finally, Trend Receivers have an above-average communication competence. This allows them to exchange ideas with a wide variety of people, but above all it enables them to translate their perceptions into a precise and descriptive language and to respond precisely to the questions they are asked.
Systematization of persona types involved in creating and normalizing the new

1.) Further inventor types: lead user, cool-farmer, maker, vanguard, trend-setter
2.) Further trend observer types: cool-hunters, trend researcher, (some) experts, trend scouts
3.) Further multiplier types: early adopters, cutting edgers, market mavens, alphas, influencers


Weak signals tend to be dismissed because they are anomalous, strange or bizarre. They are at odds with the dominant expectations about the future and the set of beliefs drawn on to engage in sense-making. As such, they can be particularly difficult to identify.

They can be thought of as foresight “raw material”, whose potential is not always immediately apparent (Medonça et al. 2012). To realize the value of weak signals receptors must be able to tolerate uncertainty and fluidity. They allow us to speculate on “what if“, and “what must happen for this to become a reality“. They materialize into the zeitgeist under the cover of darkness. All of sudden, everyone you know is doing Zumba, following the Paleo diet, or ashamed to fly. 

The Trend Receiver methodology can effectively mitigate the risk of overlooking or dismissing weak signals.
One driver of foresight failure is ignorance of weak signals.


Methodology Handbook 1: Making sense of the future

Author: gravity

Methodology Handbook 2: The Foresight Academy Methodology

Author: gravity

The Customer Foresight Territory

Author: Dr. Eric Eller, Dr. Rupert Hofmann, Prof. Dr. Jan Oliver Schwarz

Customer Foresight Practice: How to Access Future Markets Through Extraordinary People

Author: Dr. Rupert Hofmann