Main Menu


Literature review  facilitates the summary of the critical points, key themes or driving and restraining forces from a report, thesis or other form of literature.

Uses of the method

  • Typically used at the beginning of a foresight project to flesh out the topic question or to begin analyzing a specific Issue. 
  • Provides Insights into ways researchers can limit the scope to a needed enquiry.
  • Creates a Driving/Restraining Forces Analysis


  • Fast understanding of the questions that need answering
  • Valuable method to ensure that all the relevant issues have been considered
  • Systematic, comprehensive and multi-purpose
  • Fast and ultra-low cost
  • Can be used by both individual analysts and teams


  • Will be incomplete if not used with other methods or iterations do not go deep enough.
  • Does not report any new or experimental work except from secondary sources.

Steps to complete

  • After determining the initial question to research begin by doing a 360 degree view of the issue on the system. Add tags to your issue that can then be used in 360 degree mode to create a mind map of key associated  topics, Add relevant and credible Insights to your evidence base using the Refer button within the chosen Issue.
  • Use these same tags to locate further Insights by searching the Internet.
  • Try to locate around 50-60 reports and relevant articles related to your research topic. Add any new Insights as you go and use the Refer button to link to your Issue.
  • Also, begin to search computerized databases such as ERIC, PsycINFO, Sociofile, the Social Science Citation Index, Google Scholar, ProQuest etc.
  • Begin categorizing and adding useful snippets from your gathered Insights into your literature review as driving forces. A driving force is a force outside the firm (external factors) that trigger the change of strategy in an organization.
  • Don't forget to add a driving force title and reference or web link of the source. You might want to categorize your snippets under these driving forces: accepted wisdom, unusual, uncertain, surprising, theoretical plus others that occur to you as you examine the literature.
  • Don't worry too much about formatting at this stage. You can do that later if you wish to create a professional looking report.
  • Separate and summarize the Driving and Restraining Forces from the above Themes.
  • Now, examine the Driving and Restraining Forces and endeavor to find solutions that unfreeze or move forces to a higher positive plane. Then endeavor to note how this higher plane can be maintained and accelerated.
  • Determine the fixed driving force factors (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. Mark these up in the previous Driving and Restraining Forces fields.
  • Capture variable driving force factors: critical uncertainties i.e. variables, soft trends and potential surprises. Both these and the fixed elements will be key to creating scenarios and examining potential future paradigm shifts. Mark these up in the previous Driving and Restraining Forces fields.
  • Capture unique insight into new ways of seeing that can be utilized by the organization. What are the advantages and disadvantages?
  • 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?
  • Finish by noting your next steps. Next steps could include a further round of iteration, a recommendation on how to get the answers or use of other research and methods such as 'Starburst' to create more vantage points on the issue. Repeat the exercise from a different perspective e.g., taking a negative view or an unusual position, or from the viewpoint of another stakeholder. (see the Tear-Down thinking method here).

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

Sociologist Kurt Lewin developed a 'force field analysis' model (1951) which describes any current level of performance or being as a state of equilibrium between the driving forces that encourage upward movement and the restraining forces that discourage it. Essentially this means that a current equilibrium exists because the forces acting for change are balanced by the forces acting against change

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.

Some rights reserved. This particular part of the website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.