Snapshot is a very simple but powerful technique for abstracting the maximum amount of information from a simple fact.

Uses of the method

  • Intelligence assessments
  • Market analysis
  • Change analysis
  • Synopsis of detailed information


  • Fast appreciation of the key interesting information
  • Helps draw out all key inferences for strategy and policy considerations


  • May be incomplete if not used with other methods or iterations do not go deep enough.
  • Takes a little practice to abstract at the beginning

Steps to complete

  • Summarize the interesting issues you see in the Insight.
  • Ask 'so what' iteratively in order to tease out all the implications of what is changing.
  • Explore how this Insight, possibly in conjuction with others, might morph in another direction or accelerate. Postulate simple scenarios on how it could happen describing who, what, when, why and how.
  • List who or what might drive this change. Consider using WATCH to track future insights on the same topic.
  • Copy important text excerpts to this analysis (do not copy more than 10% of the Insight to avoid copyright issues). You are totally responsible for your actions in avoiding copyright issues.
  • Add important background information from the article or your own knowledge again being aware of copyright issues and the need for responsible writing.
  • Rank the slant of the Insight in terms of its impact on your organization.
  • Rank the influence of the Insight in terms of impact on your organization.
  • capture your most exciting idea and biggest fear.
  • Determine the fixed elements (almost certain hard trends) that will inform your strategic response: slow-changing phenomena e.g. demographic shifts, constrained situations e.g. resource limits, in the pipeline e.g. aging of baby boomers, inevitable collisions e.g. climate change arguments.
  • Capture critical uncertainties i.e. variables, soft trends and potential surprises. Both these and the fixeded elements will be key to creating scenarios and examining potential future paradigm shifts.
  • Capture unique insight into new ways of seeing that can be utilized by the organization.
  • State alternative hypotheses drawn with different assumptions and judgments.
  • Consider what factors would likely change your mind through receipt of new information.
  • Determine which factors could surprise and alter your judgment and the direction of the outcome.
  • What conclusions can we draw from the exercise(s)?
    • How might the future be different?
    • How does A affect B?
    • What is likely to remain the same or change significantly?
    • What are the likely outcomes?
    • What and who will likely shape our future?
    • Where could we be most affected by change?
    • What might we do about it?
    • What don't we know that we need to know?
    • What should we do now, today?
    • Why do we care?
    • When should we aim to meet on this?

When you have snapshotted sufficient interesting issues either make a report and send these to colleagues or hold a meeting to discuss
This method and your response can be shared with other members or kept private using the 'Privacy' field and through the 'Tag', 'Report' and 'Forum' functionalities. Use 'Tag' and/or 'Report' to aggregate your analyzes, or add a 'Forum' to ask others where they agree/disagree and encourage them to make their own analysis from their unique vantage point.

Click the 'Invite tab to send invitations to other members or non-members (colleagues, external experts etc.) to ask for their input. You can whether or not you want anonymous responses.  These can be viewed and exported within the Responses tab.

Further reference

  • AstraZeneca: AZ Pulse - Snapshots

This simple precis method of evaluating an Insight was first suggested by AstraZeneca in 2010.

We are grateful to AstraZeneca for sharing their process with us.

Contact us
Even with all the advice and tools we have provided here starting a foresight project from scratch can be a daunting prospect to a beginner. Let us know if you need help with this method or want a group facilitation exercise or full project or program carrying out by us. We promise to leave behind more internal knowledgeable people who can expand your initiative for better organizational performance.

Contact us today for a free discussion on your needs.

Are there other enhancements or new methods you would like to see here? Let us know and we will do our best to respond with a solution quickly.

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