Horizon Scanning and Trend Analysis
The most common Futures and Foresight tool, both within and outside of the IFRC, scanning involves researching and understanding trends, scanning horizons for emerging issues and analysing their potential impacts on services. A 2016 study found that that almost all international organisations have a routine of scanning on an ongoing basis, and interlinked scanning processes. The results of scanning exercises were strongly associated with strategic planning, both structurally and in terms of multi-annual planning cycle.
However, in the RCRC these basic approaches are generally not applied consistently, and do not necessarily employ the rigour that we need to correctly illuminate and understand the future and its impact, and then to use this insight to inform strategy and policy.
A quick example:
World Vision International employs a full time scanning team of 32 who conduct research, interviews and desk studies to explore emerging trends and to then undertake rigorous analysis of these trends to explore their impacts for World Vision services, business and communities. The trends are aggregated by the scanning team in collaboration with senior leadership into 12 Mega Trends. Much more sophisticated analysis is then undertaken on these mega trends with the support of a range of thematic experts, the results of which are then embedded into strategic planning process and ultimately converted into organisational action plans and resource allocation. The whole process is integrated and timed to support strategic planning.