The various bodies and their roles
Each Foresight process needs a management structure allowing the various actors to be coordinated effectively. Although each project is different, some elements of this organisational structure have proved useful in various exercises, in particular:
A number of formal and informal roles can also be distinguished in Foresight, including promoters, stakeholders, sponsors, the steering committee, champions, experts, process experts, monitoring groups, etc. Formal roles and responsibilities require careful definition. While the steering group, the project management team and the coordinator are clearly defined groups of people with similar functions in most exercises, the participants can be organised in a number of bodies with various configurations, ranging from one-off participation in a single event through to regular involvement in a variety of tasks, such as reporting.
The role of these bodies depends very much on the approach adopted to design decisions. Usually the steering committee is responsible for strategic directions while the project team is responsible for operational activities. However, the governance of the wider programme is a matter for all stakeholders. In the case of bottom up approaches, groups of participants are assigned far reaching competencies over shaping the process (e.g. a panel group can decide to split into two sub groups or to adopt a method other than that originally proposed). In such cases there will be a continuous need for the management team to adapt the process.
The actors involved in the exercise need to be related to each other in a formal structure to ensure a smooth workflow and information exchange, adequate timing, and monitoring of progress. The coordinator, together with the client, will set up the formal structure at an early stage in the project. Depending on the complexity of the exercise and the number of bodies involved, it will be necessary to create various bodies and define their mode of interaction with the overall project. Many projects have, for instance, initiated panel groups that were steered by external committees. The decision procedures will have to be defined early on to avoid confusion on who decides what and when during the process.
The picture below shows an example of a management structure from the experience of North-East England where each programme area had its own coordinator.
There is more about organisation in some of the example cases: