Anticipatory Governance: Strategic Design Service

One of the most pressing challenges faced today, is how to develop government decision-making processes that are responsive to long-term societal challenges and which are flexible in turbulent and changing environments. Anticipatory Governance strategies exists which can help governments and organizations to choose and design the right approaches to building-in foresight capacity into their organization.

Our service is based on comprehensive research and expertise in the field, developed through a research fellowship in 2012 at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (National University of Singapore), where I researched, designed and delivered a course on foresight strategies for public policy for Masters students. The fellowship led to this research paper: Anticipatory Governance.

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Since then, I have helped governments in Victoria, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, and Mexico City to use Anticipatory Governance thinking to design strategies that support long term social navigation.

Anticipatory governance describes a number of approaches to building-in foresight capacity into policy development and governance processes. Anticipatory governance strategies are used by dozens of governments from around the world. In development for over 40 years, they include a variety of strategies. The research at NUS uncovered a ‘design space’ for Anticipatory Governance, in particular the following seven strategies.

  1. Science, Technology and Innovation Foresight (STIF)
  2. Anticipatory Democracy (AD)
  3. Futures Commissions (FC)
  4. Foresight Informed Strategic Planning (FISP)
  5. Transition Management (TM)
  6. Integrated Governmental Foresight (IGF)
  7. Network Foresight (NF)

Taken together,  the variety of approaches comprise a strategic design space for Anticipatory Governance.

This unique consulting service helps organizations to choose the right approaches to apply. We diagnose the key needs, issues, challenges and intentions that need to inform an organization’s development of their unique Anticipatory Governance strategy.  We help to conceptualize, design and tailor the Anticipatory Governance approach best suited for the organisations circumstances. We offer critical guidance in putting an Anticipatory Governance system in place.

Outcomes:

  1. Awareness and depth understanding of a variety of Anticipatory Governance strategies.
  2. Support in evaluating which Anticipatory Governance strategies match the contextual circumstances and organisational needs.
  3. Support in designing the most effective and appropriate strategy mix for an organization.

 

Taken from: “Anticipatory Governance: Traditions and Trajectories for Strategic Design”,  Journal of Futures Studies, September 2014, 19(1): 35-52
Over the course of the last half century, a number of practices were developed that connect foresight with governance. From the early development of technological forecasting and anticipatory democracy to municipal and regional (local) approaches and futures commissions, to the more recent development of transition management, integrated governmental foresight, and to the cutting- edge in networked/crowd sourced approaches, traditions and discourses that link foresight and governance have evolved considerably.

The purpose of this article is to review these various traditions and discourses to understand the context within which different approaches can be valuable, and expand the basis by which we can develop Anticipatory Governance Strategies. Not all strategies are appropriate in all contexts, however, a major proposition in this paper is that we can design strategy mixes that can combine a number of traditions and discourse in creative ways that allow practitioners to address complex, fuzzy and wicked challenges that singular approaches would have a harder time addressing successfully.

Introduction

One of the premises in this article is that societies face complex and wicked challenges, and therefore there is no one approach that will be a silver bullet to address them. And further, there is no one approach to linking foresight and governance that will effectively give a recipe for how to do it in every instance. Indeed, the post-structural turn in Futures Studies (Inayatullah, 1998; Slaughter, 1999) puts forward the proposition that traditions and discourses structure the very way that we we see a problem; and therefore, to address the challenge of developing strategies and approaches to Anticipatory Governance for specific concerns, we can draw on a number of traditions and discourses as a “strategy mix”. In essence this paper puts forward Anticipatory Governance (AG) as a post-structural design challenge. 

Instrumental rationality in the 20th century has shown us that one man’s miracle creation can create a cascade of complex problems. From the development of the first nuclear bomb, to the automobile, the use of pesticides and the green revolution, and now the throes of the digital revolution, instrumental rationality provides solutions that then generate a new complex set of problems. Or as Ulrich Beck argued, we inhabit a world risk society in which the output of industrial growth is not just wealth and technological innovation, but also uncertainty and risk (Beck, 1999). Bertrand de Jouvenel (1967) made a similar point more than half a century ago, that it is because of “progress” that forecasting is needed. As we accelerate change in our societies (in particular technological change), the future becomes less certain and difficult to forecast, creating the necessity to understand the potential consequences and implications of change, and feed this back into wiser decision making. From the well organized mess of instrumental rationality, more comprehensive or holistic ways of addressing the human and social experience have been developed that are context conscious (Gunderson, 2002). Futures Studies, the systematic application of foresight to understand and enact social change, fundamentally must incorporate complexity into its approaches. A complexity oriented approach, however, is not just one where dynamic systems are mapped, but also where the wickedness of contemporary challenges can be de-fanged by understanding and analyzing how traditions and discourses frame the world we see around us – an the opportunities and strategies we can follow. De Jouvenel’s idea for a “Surmising Forum” was in fact an early example of such an approach to complexity, where various social sciences and knowledge traditions would come together to collaborate on social anticipation that could guide public and governmental decision making (a very early example of Anticipatory Governance). The following discussion of traditions and discourses is offered as a “post-instrumental” design space that is meant to facilitate our engagement and capacity to employ Anticipatory Governance approaches.

Traditions and Discourses for Anticipatory Governance

In this next section I present an overview of seven traditions and discourses for Anticipatory Governance. This provides a starting point within which to understand AG as a broad domain of activity, and to analyze different approaches. This analysis in the following section will provide a basis for a discussion on strategy mixing and design in the context of addressing foresight to social response challenges.

  1. Science, Technology and Innovation Foresight (STIF)
  2. Anticipatory Democracy (AD)
  3. Futures Commissions (FC)
  4. Foresight Informed Strategic Planning (FISP)
  5. Transition Management (TM)
  6. Integrated Governmental Foresight (IGF)
  7. Network Foresight (NF)

 

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