Knowledge is now often shared through informal social networks. Building a Community of Practice of policy researchers with foresight capacity is one of our key objectives. To reach this objective we connect with existing policy units and communities of interest. Examples of communities of interest are the National Managers’ Community, the Federal Youth Network and the Community of Federal Regulators.
Communities of practice are allowing people to transfer their knowledge, skills and expertise to others. This enables knowledge workers to share their expertise and become familiar with issues outside their areas of responsibility.
Our work relies on effective engagement with experts inside and outside the Canadian government. We therefore have a strong interest in partnering with organizations that work in areas related to foresight.
Our partnerships are with a range of academic, government, business and policy organizations. These usually lead to mutual learning events organized on a periodic basis.
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)
Horizons and SSHRC collaborate to encourage and support policy-related research by Canadian researchers funded by SSHRC, primarily in the social sciences and humanities.
As part of this partnership, researchers applying to SSHRC funding programs are invited to seek Horizons in-kind support. This support may be provided if the research is relevant to federal policy development over the medium to longer term.
Three Horizons: From Foresight to Action - Facilitator's Guide
Alternate Version: PDF version (11 pages, 1,164 KB) 2016-0276-guide_threehorizons-eng.pdf
OBJECTIVE: TO BEGIN CLOSING THE GAP BETWEEN CONTENT PRESENTED IN FORESIGHT DOCUMENTS AND THE IMMEDIATE NEEDS AND CHALLENGES FACED BY THE POLICY COMMUNITY.
This exercise takes approximately two hours, including about one hour of discussion in breakout groups where participants explore how ideas put forth in a foresight research project (10–15 year horizon) could apply to a more actionable 3–5 year timeline.
- 1 primary facilitator
- 1–2 supporting facilitators for each breakout group (familiar with foresight document)
- 4–50 participants (to be divided into breakout groups of 4–8 participants)
Post on the wall of the plenary room:
- A visual agenda (optional)
- Rules of engagement (optional)
- 1 large flipchart page for each group (with sticky notes for room assignment; and later for report back)
- 2 headings on flipchart pages (optional): What worked? & What could be better?
For each breakout group:
- Fine-tip marker for each participant
- 3 pads of sticky notes (in 3 different colours)
- Projector/computer (optional)
- 1 printed foresight document
- 1 clear wall that can be used as a working space
A central meeting room to present the exercise and breakout rooms (or spaces within the meeting room) for each group.
|5 MIN||1. Give context for the exercise and its goal|
2. Present findings from foresight project
|5 MIN||3. Provide instructions for the exercise|
|2 MIN||4. Participants break into groups|
|60 MIN||5. Group discussion|
|2 MIN||6. Groups reconvene|
|13 MIN||7. Each group shares 1–3 insights from their discussion|
|10 MIN||8. Reflect on / evaluate the exercise|
EST. TOTAL TIME: 120 minutes
BEFORE THE MEETING: HOW THIS EXERCISE HELPS AN AUDIENCE MAKE USE OF FORESIGHT FINDINGS
When the results of a foresight study are shared with a new audience (e.g. through a foresight report), it can be difficult to know what to do with this information. Some readers may even be frustrated if:
- the plausible implications seem too distant into the future (it may be hard to see the connection to current policy discourse);
- the plausible implications are very negative/frightening (this may lead audiences to avoid and deny the content); and/or
- the audience concludes that these futures are inevitable (there is nothing that can be done but wait for these potential futures to happen).
This activity helps policymakers begin to close the gap between the future they would like to see (e.g. reflected in policy aspirations such as departmental mandates, speeches, budgets, etc.) and the plausible futures the study suggests for consideration. Empowering policymakers with these conversations reminds them that the future is not written. With constructive early conversations, we may set the course for actions that mitigate unwanted potential challenges and harness potential opportunities. This is the ultimate goal of foresight.
In advance: Prepare a presentation of the foresight study findings
A presenter will need to become familiar with the content of the foresight document and prepare a presentation. Participants can also be asked to read the document before the activity. However, a brief presentation of the content is still strongly recommended so that all participants are aware of the ideas in the foresight document.
Prepare the room(s)
- The plenary meeting room will be used to present the guidelines for the main activity. Participants should be seated around one or more tables with a good view of the presentation.
- Develop and post in the room any visual aids that will be referred to in the meeting.
- A large agenda should be placed on a wall at the front of the room and should clearly indicate the locations of the breakout spaces. Letters, numbers or colours can be used to name the breakout spaces.
- Breakout spaces:
- The breakout spaces can be separate rooms or various corners within the plenary room.
- Groups will need a large board or section of wall. A two-metre wide section of wall is ideal.
- Each participant will need a chair, writing surface and a clear sightline to the wall that will collect sticky notes.
- In the breakout spaces, divide one wall into three columns labelled First, Second, and Third Horizon. The Second Horizon, in the middle, should take nearly 80% of the total allocated space.
- Each group will need three colours of sticky notes in order to keep the three separate Horizons clearly distinguishable.
- A photo example of a completed Three Horizons exercise appears at the end of this document.
|1. Give context for the exercise and its goals (5 minutes)
|2. Present findings from foresight document (23 minutes)
3. Provide instructions for the exercise (5 minutes)
Process for dividing participants into breakout
|4. Participants break into groups of 4-8 (2 minutes)
5. Group discussion (10-60 minutes)
|Round Two: Shaping the boundaries of the conversation (10 minutes)
Round Three: Imagining a proactive response (Second Horizon) (35minutes)
|Summary (5 minutes)
6. Groups return to plenary session (2 minutes)
|7. Each group facilitator shares key findings in plenary session (13 minutes)
|8. Reflect on and/or evaluate the exercise (10 minutes)
Example: Three Horizons Activity
Below is an example of a Three Horizons activity. The discussion was around the insight “Asia’s growing presence in cyberspace could heighten threats to security”, drawn from Horizons’ Future of Asia study.
Summary: Image description
This image is entitled “The Three Horizons.” The method is fully detailed below.
Risks associated with important data leaks.
- Identify a policy area relevant to your department’s mandate that could be impacted by the insight presented.
- Do you have any questions about the selected policy area?
The Big One: Is Canada ready to face a data leak at an unprecedented scale?
Enact robust ‘forgettting’ regulation
What can you do tomorrow?
Start a conversation with the right people
3. What challenges and opportunities around this policy area may arise should this insight become a reality?
4. What initiatives could we take now that would address these new challenges and opportunities?
5. What could you do tomorrow?
Asia’s growing presence in cyberspace could heighten threats to security.