Foresight Informed Strategic Planning (FISP)

At different levels of government, from local to states and federal, a large body of practice and literature relates to planning processes that are informed by strategic foresight approaches. If a government is considering a planning process that will have implications for 5, 10, or 20 years, often they will apply some type of foresight approach to informing the planning process. Such foresight informed planning processes are most often participatory – which engage key stakeholders in a locale that might represent the broader system) in order to discuss the long-term issues being mutually experienced. It employs workshop based approaches to foresight and requires expert facilitators and facilitation.

There are a wide variety of approaches to foresight informed planning, including search conference methods (Ludema, 2002; Weisbord, 1992), scenario planning (Mahmud, 2011) and others.

Gould and Daffara (Gould, 2007, p.2) articulate the value of foresight for planning and engaging a community in decision-making, providing participants with a deepened understanding of social change trajectories, providing an opportunity for participants to articulate and imagine their preferred futures, and to foster action plans and processes that can get integrated into achieving the futures that participants prefer. Further they argue that such approaches allow for greater transparency through open communication and involvement, where existing assumptions about the future can be made more explicit, challenged and evaluated, as well as creating opportunities for collaboration across government and citizen boundaries. Such processes bring forth new talents among people, surface existing issues and conflicts for resolution, develop the community’s capacity to question assumptions and builds hope among people. For government such processes allow policies to be informed by a deeper understanding of long-term change, deepen the rigor of existing planning schemes, help develop collaborations across sectors and provide opportunities to integrate policy (Gould and Daffara, 2007, p.3).