The evaluation of Foresight is necessary to assess whether objectives were met, to learn lessons on how the exercise was managed, and to define follow-up activities. Evaluation is likely to refer back to the implementation plan. In any evaluation strategy it is important to recognise that benefits from Foresight tend to emerge on different levels and at different times. It is also important to keep an eye out for unexpected benefits and to identify 'success stories' as possible 'demonstrators' of positive outcomes. However, you should bear in mind that impacts often also depend on external factors such as luck and timing.
There is certainly no 'one best way', and thus actual Foresight exercises cannot be evaluated against an 'ideal', 'optimal' or 'best practice' design. Benchmarking against successful past exercises is a possible approach.
Foresight evaluation has to be designed carefully and various approaches are possible. It should not be so obtrusive as to disrupt operations and annoy stakeholders; nor so cursory as to fail to be useful to the majority of these stakeholders. It also needs to be sufficiently independent to provide a credible and legitimate overview of the activity.
A wide range of data may be relevant to the evaluation. Some of these data may be "by-products" such as records of meeting attendance, press reports, publication lists, etc. But often it will be necessary to generate new data – often by surveying people participating in (or potentially being influenced by) the activity.
One key feature of evaluation is measuring the exercise's achievements against its intended objectives using the "Logic Diagram" approach.
More information on the evaluation of Foresight activities in the following anchor paper presented at the 2006 FTA Seminar:
- Remi Barré and Michael Keenan: "FTA Evaluation, Impact and Learning"
The evaluation of Foresight activities is the topic of the 2007 Mutual Learning workshops series.
- Philippe Destatte: "Evaluation of Foresight: how to take long term impacts into consideration?"
The online "Doing Foresight" tool is specifically designed for the evaluation and self-evaluation of Foresight exercise.
There is more information on evaluation in some of the example cases:
Remember that as well as "ex post" evaluation after the exercise has been completed, on-going "real-time" evaluation, while the activity is still underway, is a valuable way of keeping the exercise on track.