In this era of continuous change – where technological, societal and economic changes are accelerating at an exceptional pace—there is a rising challenge for sustainability in the uncertain future. While technological advancements escalate, traditional strategies and processes fall behind. The public sector needs to shift its stance from reactive to proactive in able to surf the trends and exploit opportunities to better serve its citizenry.
While the Philippine government has established systems to identify and manage risks, another dimension that needs to be looked into is actively taking advantage of prospects and developments. Future thinking not only requires recognizing risks and opportunities, but rather anticipating and embracing change. In enhancing an organization’s agility, flexibility and adaptability to deviations, scenario planning identifies the driving forces, critical uncertainties, and forward inferences to develop plans for multiple scenarios.
As Peter Schwartz, author of The Art of the Long View: Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World, said, scenarios are a tool for helping us take the long view in a world of great uncertainty. Strategic foresight explores these uncertainties and formulates potential pathways or strategies. It has three approaches to developing scenario sets: (1) Deductive Approach; (2) Incremental Approach; and (3) Inductive Approach. Deductive approach constructs a matrix from two uncertainties and uses the axes as driving forces to deduce four scenarios for four quadrants of the matrix. Incremental approach alters a few key variables of a definite future and identifies alternatives. Lastly, inductive approach clusters various uncertainties to formulate stories and possible futures.
Being the sole provider of basic citizens’ services, governments should be at the forefront of change in order to deliver in the best interests of the citizens. Moving from traditional planning to prospective analysis and scenarios, strategic foresight strengthens public sector organizations to promote good governance, innovation, strategic evaluation, and proactive shaping of the future. Truly, foresight is key to sustainable productivity.