Managing the complex interactions between the people involved as effectively as possible is a key challenge in a Foresight exercise. There are a variety of types of relationships that need to be managed in a Foresight process. The project team has overall responsibility for leading all the relationships involved, including those with other actors, participants and stakeholders in the exercise. The scope of a Foresight exercise also plays a role in the relationships and people involved. For example it is more likely that Foresight exercises conducted at national level have a greater number of actors and/or relationships to manage than those at local or regional level.
Managing relationships across the exercise
One of the main challenges when running a Foresight exercise is to manage the relationships between the various actors involved in the exercise (see organising the exercise) such as panels, expert groups and the various groups with executive tasks. As Foresight is a knowledge generating process, the effective flow of information is critical for its success. It is therefore vital to think carefully about the communication strategy early in the design phase and follow it closely throughout the exercise. (See designing the communication strategy)
Keep the client/sponsor involved
Independently from the scope and size of an exercise, one of the crucial relationships that has to be managed is between the team leader and the client or sponsor. They have to be regularly informed (formally and informally) of progress and consulted when important decisions have to be made.
The first challenge in managing relationships is the level of understanding and interaction that develops or can be achieved between the client/sponsor and the team leader. At the start of the exercise, unless the client/sponsor has already worked with the same team leader or is aware of other successful projects he/she has run, there is potentially a level of concern, possibly insecurity, on the part of the client over the choice of team leader. Will the team leader be able to deliver? Will the results be of high quality? The main concern is whether the client can work with the team leader. If the relationship is not properly managed on both sides, if they cannot communicate effectively with each other in terms of expectations and realistic milestones and results, the exercise starts with a major handicap.
Interacting with the Steering Committee
The steering committee should be involved in all critical decisions but it also needs to be kept informed and integrated as much as possible throughout the exercise.
There is more information on managing relationships in some of the example cases: