How organizations deal with the future depends on how they answer the following two questions:
1. To what extent is there a knowledge base for anticipating important events?
2. To what extent is there a stock of knowledge on which to draw for undertaking action? How these two questions are answered, gives different ways organizations attempt to deal with the future.
In forecasting, the area to be observed or the research questions have to be known in advance, trough four elements: the time of the forecast, the technology being forecast, a statement of the characteristics of the technology, and a statement of the probability associated with the forecast. So many options are possible, and sometimes with forecasting methodologies, they are all analysed. It is unknown in advance whether the right developments can really be identified. Sometimes there are many more, and totally different, options than expected. The linearity of development is another assumption that is often made, although developments are not necessarily linear but have many feedback loops. This can be observed especially for technological innovations. Forecasting normally ends with the identification of the possible futures
This goes further into these different directions. Foresight is the process involved in systematically attempting to look into the longer-term future of science, technology, the economy and society with the aim of identifying the areas of strategic research and the emerging of generic technologies likely to yield the greatest economic and social benefits. In other words foresight is the overall process of creating an understanding and appreciation of information generated by looking ahead. Foresight includes qualitative and quantitative means for monitoring clues and indicators of evolving trends and developments and is best and most useful when directly linked to the analysis of policy implications. Foresight prepares us to meet the needs and opportunities of the future.