Although the phrase think-tank is little more than 30 years old, the search for new opportunities in commerce and industry has been going on a long time. The rapid overseas expansion of European nations began with the maritime centre which Henry the Navigator established at Sagras in Portugal. Four centuries later other searchers after new areas of exploitation-Nasmyth, Bessemer, Stephenson-had immense effect on the growth of the new steam-powered industries and dependent businesses. And so it has gone on ever since-to the development of the new transistor in the Bell Laboratories in 1947, to Alistair Pilkington's invention of float glass in 1952 and beyond. As Denis Loveridge shows in this article, these and many similar revolutionary inventions depend on personal endurance for their successful completion, while their widespread adoption has repercussions over many decades, making it imperative for industries to look ahead. Foresight in this context needs to adopt a wider view than simply that of technological optimism; what is needed is business built on the philosophy of wisdom, on the concept of value, which embraces the wider issues of business and creates achievable visions for its future. © 1988.