MetaScan 2011: Exploring Four Global Forces Shaping Our Future

Authors: Policy Horizons Canada
Document Type: MetaScan
Published Date: Sunday, January 1, 2012 - 5:00am
ISBN number: PH4-108/2012E-PDF, 78-1-100-20015-6

On this page

The world is changing

Canada needs to influence or adapt

Process and key products

Annex 1 : Our Process

Annex 2 : What is Foresight?

Global forces will play a larger role in shaping our future

Scenarios explore the range of futures we may confront

About how we think and work

Some of the potential changes are far more disruptive than others

 

The world is changing

Through foresight studies, plausible futures are explored to examine the relationships amongst issues and actors within the system. Foresight allows key assumptions to be tested and uncertainties revealed to identify opportunities and challenges so that effective coping strategies are developed.

Canada needs to influence or adapt

Successful foresight should challenge current assumptions and mental models, providing a space for reflection about the robustness of current policies and strategies.

Our purpose with this work is to stimulate discussion and help frame the questions we need to explore.

This MetaScan is a learning process designed to experiment with new ideas and techniques, and through collaboration and co-creation help build capacity to use foresight across government to strengthen the long-term policy process.

In the future, the experience gained through the MetaScan process could be applied by individual departments and agencies to inform their own forward policy agendas.

MetaScan 2011 explored how four international change drivers are shaping Canada's future. The global and Canadian economies could look quite different in 10 years or 15 years. New developments are expected to change the economy, such as:

  • fragmentation in global value chains;
  • rise of new technologies;
  • new processes like co-creation, co-production and co-consumption;
  • demographic change;
  • growing demands for new measures of well-being; and,
  • new factors shaping competitiveness.

One thing is certain - we confront a period of profound change. MetaScan 2011 was co-created by Policy Horizons Canada and participating departments.

Process and key products

MetaScan 2011 was informed by three foresight projects. Each project brought together expertise from across the public service, academia and elsewhere. Each was produced using collaborative methods and tools. The three 2011 projects were:

 

Annex 1 : Our Process

Our Process includes: Assumptions, Scanning, System Mapping, Change Drivers, Scenarios, and Products.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary: Image description

This image is titled "Annex 1: Our Process" which includes Assumptions, Scanning, System Mapping, Change Drivers, Scenarios, and Products.

 

Annex 2 : What is Foresight?

Scanning and foresight are tools to help us to think about the future.

  • Scanning identifies changes in the domestic and international environments that could have significant implications for government policy and programs. 
  • Foresight processes explore how these changes may evolve and interact to create new policy challenges and opportunities.

The processes are not trying to predict the future, but to explore the range of plausible futures that may emerge and to help identify assumptions and strategies that are robust in preparing for an uncertain future.

But beyond and foremost, foresight is a natural human trait that allows us to consider a problem, explore options, weigh pros and cons and in doing so develop mental models of possible strategies and desired outcomes to help better plan for the future. With that perspective in mind, Horizons’ foresight process assembles a range of visual tools which helps people surface their mental models and discuss them as a group. Engaging many perspectives ensures a more robust analysis which can then lead to better advice.

Foresight … A Path to Policy Preparedness

Foresight studies, when conducted by governments, allow policy makers to reflect on how the environment is changing and what additional information and planning may be required to ensure policy preparedness … Resilience. 

 

Global forces will play a larger role in shaping our future

Global Rebalancing

A multipolar world is emerging. Political and economic influence are shifting with the rise of new players and new agendas. Over the next decade important policy and investment decisions in Canada will be increasingly influenced by forces that are global in nature:

  • Shifting consensus
  • Shifting prosperity
  • New threats and shifting alliances

Well-being

Economic models are under stress and a well-being framework is emerging. This movement is amplified by points of pressures such as:

  • Hypercompetition – lower barriers to entry makes it difficult to sustain comparative advantage 
  • Creating shared value 
  • Aging and population diversity

Social Media

Network-enabling technologies are redefining connectivity, collaboration and competitiveness in the digital age, changing the way we think and the way in which organizations work by enabling processes like: 

  • Co-creation – users are active in the design of the policy, product or service
  • Co-production – process leverages users resources to create shared value
  • Co-consumption – users jointly consume the product, reducing individual costs and adding value

Environment & Competitiveness

Canadian businesses, governments, and civil society are operating in a complex environment, characterized by rapid technological change, multi-faceted and fragmented regulations, standards and norms and growing pressures to adapt and remain competitive.

  • Changing determinants of competitiveness
  • Rising innovation – response to environmental concerns
  • Beyond compliance environment

 

Scenarios explore the range of futures we may confront

Different scenarios exploring the range of futures we may confront

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary: Image description

This image describes scenarios that explore the range of futures we may confront through Archetype, Power Shift, Economy, Governance, and Society.

About how we think and work

  • New ways of thinking and working: The digital generation, social media and the next array of smart collaboration tools are among the more influential and pervasive change drivers of the next decade. They will change organizational processes, relationships and hierarchies. They will raise citizens’ expectations for timely and customized services and engagement, especially among the digital generation. 
  • New ways of organizing: Social media will amplify the influence of non-state actors, who are able to communicate, organize and mobilize people and resources efficiently. Speed and surprise will give social media users an advantage with both positive and negative outcomes for society.
  • New kinds of authority: Business and non-state actors are shaping norms and standards for production and consumption through a growing number of instruments like ‘triple bottom-line’. However, standards set by non-state actors could be sub-optimal and can create non-tariff barriers that undermine our ability to compete internationally. 
  • New definition of progress: There will be growing number of pressures and influential voices demanding more integrated policies to ensure long-term individual and societal well-being and global environmental sustainability. A number of countries are responding with new indicators, policies and programs. Civil society and communities are playing an active role in shaping this debate. 

Some of the potential changes are far more disruptive than others

What if … ?

… the US significantly loses global influence? This is not the end of the US but the pragmatic recognition that “the Rest” are growing and the economic centre of gravity is shifting to Asia. The US has large deficits, political polarization and faces a major re-thinking of many government policies and programs, especially its social welfare funding mechanisms. Canada is highly integrated with the US in economic and security terms. How will the world be different? What are the risks for Canada? 

… immigrants don’t come or don’t stay? Canada looks to immigration as the prime lever to address the effects of changing demographics and an increasing demand for a skilled workforce. In the era of super-mobility, global demand for highly qualified personnel and attractive emerging markets, Canada may lose its edge as a destination of choice for immigrants. How can we transform the challenges of population aging and skills shortages into an opportunity to optimize the participation of groups vulnerable to social and economic exclusion, including Aboriginal peoples, immigrants, seniors and youth?

… Canada’s traditional natural resources are no longer competitive? Canadians assume that our abundant supply of natural resources will ensure a prosperous future. China and others are buying land and investing in resource development in developing countries where costs and standards are lower than Canada, potentially undermining our advantage. Emerging global scarcity of water and arable land may lead to increased security pressures for Canada.

… the rate at which technologies displace human capacity increases exponentially? Accelerated advancements in collaborative technologies, artificial intelligence and military robotics suggest technology will reshape our economic and social interactions. While new jobs will be created, one key consequence will be the net loss of traditional jobs. How will global job losses impact stability and value systems, such as wealth distribution? 

2018-10-26