Photo by airfocus

Practicing Foresight in Government: How to Build In-House Foresight Capabilities in Public Organizations

With public institutions operating in increasingly challenging contexts, being future-fit in today’s environment requires an increasing amount of resources.

September 15, 2020, Gökce Sandal

Many governmental institutions have realized the necessity and benefits of building in-house foresight capabilities. Compared to one-off foresight consultancy workshops or exercises, building internal foresight capacities helps institutions place foresight at the very core of the organizational culture and integrate futures thinking into their everyday work.

In the first part of this blog series, we’ve examined why having a government foresight program is necessary to deal with the increasingly complex problems that cut across different governmental departments.

In this sequel, we walk public institutions through some practical considerations on how to build internal foresight capacities and encourage dynamic decision-making procedures that factor in complexity and uncertainty.

Try our comprehensive digital foresight solution for your foresight work today, and be ready for the future. Read more about Futures Platform solution for the public sector.


3 steps to build internal foresight capabilities in public organisations


I. Build foresight based on collaboration and co-creation


Collaboration in strategic foresight enables different perspectives, enriches scenario work, and helps organizations identify multiple plausible and desirable futures. As building inclusive futures is inherently a team effort, collaboration and co-creation need to be placed at the heart of the foresight efforts right from the beginning.

Adopting a horizontal approach is an ideal first step to building internal foresight capabilities and practising foresight in government institutions. What this would mean in practice is to decentralize the foresight efforts across departments and employees.

For instance, one government department that use Futures Platform to build internal foresight capacities started their process by selecting “futures agents” who worked in different positions and levels across the organization and gave them introductory training in foresight.

These futures agents functioned as foresight advocates horizontally across the institution. Building a multidisciplinary team of futures agents will help organizations address knowledge gaps and blind spots that may otherwise be difficult to overcome within homogenous groups.

Download the case study of a governmental health department using Futures Platform to build a government foresight program here.


II. Build it sustainably with a foresight tool for government organizations


Building in-house foresight capacities is a long-term goal that takes time and effort, and it is necessary for organizations to truly invest in the process. An institutionalized team effort can ensure the sustainability of the program and help organizations leverage the full potential of strategic foresight.

Focusing on the sustainability of an internal foresight program will also ensure that strategic foresight work is not limited to one-off foresight workshops or exercises. A systematic approach to foresight will embed futures thinking into the everyday work of employees and give public institutions the flexibility they need to navigate uncertain futures.

From a practical level, however, it may not be so easy to place continuous foresight on top of all the other responsibilities employees have. This is where a digital foresight tool for government organizations can come in handy.

Having access to a comprehensive library of phenomena and their potential impacts from industry-specific perspectives will not only help organizations save a significant amount of time but also help them filter through and make sense of future changes from their point of view.


III. Build larger foresight communities to enrich your government foresight program


Another essential step in practising foresight in government institutions and building in-house capabilities is to form larger foresight communities. These communities can include stakeholders, subject-matter experts, and even the public.

Having a co-collaborative approach to foresight will allow public organizations to look beyond their operational environment and also examine the contextual surroundings. Building stronger networks with other governmental agencies and private sector professionals also help look at policymaking from a broader perspective.

For instance, the governmental institution mentioned in the above section built a community of external stakeholders and professionals from periphery industries to make their foresight work transcendent of sectors.

According to the organization, the key benefit of using Futures Platform was that it made this kind of large-scale project possible by engaging external partners with pleasant user experience. Visualization of future scenarios and compact, easy to understand trend descriptions also ensured that these cross-disciplinary discussions were accessible to every participant.

Try our digital foresight solution with a 15-day Futures Platform Free Trial and access a database of hundreds of future phenomena curated by leading futurists.



Leave your comment below: