Carrying out a Foresight exercise requires a number of skills and competencies from both the core project team and the wider circle of people contributing to the exercise.
The willingness and ability of actors in the field to learn from one another (mutual learning) and conduct future oriented reasoning is another important resource of a Foresight exercise.
You need to compare the skills and competencies needed to run the excercise with those available to be able to assess realistically what the excercise can achieve.
Identifying necessary skills and competencies
Skills and competencies are needed on various levels:
- First of all a range of competencies within the core team carrying out the exercise (as described in "building the project team");
- In addition - depending on the methods to be used - a number of competencies during the process such as facilitators for workshops, rapporteurs for panel discussions, designers for online-surveys, etc. (Some advice on these points are to be found in the description of the respective methods).
- Thirdly, certain competencies from participants in Foresight events such as those described in "identifying participants".
- Finally, you will have to identify latent Foresight potential that can be mobilised with the right stimuli, such as existing sensitivity of the various players (businesses, authorities, research- technology-transfer and innovation-support) towards future-oriented analysis or a readiness to engage in participatory approaches within certain sectors of society.
It is advisable to think carefully from the start about what competencies you will need on the various levels and what strategies you will use to recruit the people with the requisite profiles.
Mapping available skills and competencies
Knowledge may be either explicit (such as books, papers, journals or other sources) or tacit (such as individuals' experience and know-how). When mapping the available skills and competencies it is important not only to look at resources that are explicitly flagged as "Foresight" but to consider also how to make best use of skills and competencies from other fields.
There are a variety of activities where valuable expertise could be located:
- Participatory undertakings such as citizens boards, open consultation processes;
- Attempts to gather anticipatory intelligence (e.g. planning processes);
- Academic studies aiming at deriving anticipatory intelligence by applying formal methods (Futures Studies);
- Technology assessment community;
- Strategy building in public bodies like ministries and other groups of actors (citizen initiatives, professional organisations)
All these fields should be carefully surveyed to identify people able to contribute to the exercise.
- See also: Analysis of the context
Securing the necessary skills and competencies
If the expertise needed to carry out the exercise is not available, other strategies will have to be employed such as:
Building the necessary skills and competencies inside
The skills needed for the successful completion of the exercise can be developed by training the project team or by bringing external competencies into the project (e.g. using external support for specific tasks) and ensuring that such skills are learned by members of the team so that external assistance is not needed in the future.
Recruiting necessary skills and competencies from outside
Another approach to bringing into the exercise the skills needed is to outsource parts of the project, such as using professional consultancy for facilitating workshops or panel discussions, among others.
There is more information on mapping and building competencies in some of the example cases: