top of page

Addressing underlying assumptions: Tips and Tricks on Horizon Scanning

Author

Emma Coroler

Oct 6, 2023

The 'Horizon Scanning – Tips and Tricks.' publication provides an insightful step-by-step support on how to run an effective horizon scan - and how to address underlying biases while doing so.

On 16 August 2023, the European Environment Agency (EEA) published the practical guide 'Horizon Scanning – Tips and Tricks.' This publication is produced by the European Environment Information and Observation Network (EIONET), which is a partnership network of the EEA involving 38 cooperating countries. Working closely with the EEA, EIONET is responsible for collecting and developing data, knowledge, and advice for policymakers regarding Europe's environment.

 

The guide offers step-by-step support on how to frame, run, analyse, and communicate the results of a systematic horizon scan for practitioners with different professional backgrounds and levels of experience. It presents a practical methodology structured into four key steps: Signal Spotting, Signal Scanning, Sense Making and Communication. The publication was designed with the aim of enhancing and developing the capabilities of the 38 countries within the EIONET Network to conduct foresight exercises, particularly horizon scanning. According to Richard Filcak, Head of Group Systems, Foresight, and SOER at the European Environment Agency: “After a couple of years of experience with horizon scanning, we had the feeling that we had a lot of things to share. This publication was an attempt to systematically bring together bits and pieces of information, practices and tips and tricks.

 

While the guide's primary focus remains directed at environmental stakeholders, its scope goes beyond just the EIONET Network, as it may also be valuable to individuals and organisations outside the network that specialise in foresight practices. This publication assumes greater practical significance amid a rising demand for foresight, fuelled in part by the European Commission's commitment to incorporate foresight methodologies into policy formulation and response strategies.

 

The guide also highlights the importance of addressing cognitive biases and underlying assumptions in the process of Horizon Scanning. These biases and assumptions wield significant influence over one's capacity to detect weak signals, navigate future possibilities, assess the present, and interpret the past.

 

Filcak noted that the effectiveness of Horizon Scanning is also closely tied to the diversity and inclusivity of the expert group involved. A more diverse group of experts can broaden perspectives and consider various angles, thus breaking silo thinking. As Filcak highlights, “Sometimes, it takes just one person within the group to introduce provocative questions and alternative viewpoints that can change the entire dynamic”.

 

When contemplating the future, Filcak questioned the potential limitations of horizon scanning when spotting potential causes of uncertainty in complex interplay between climate change, socio-economic disparities, and technological advancements. As he stated: “My worry would be if these horizon scanning techniques are sufficient to determine key risks and opportunities requiring attention, while we face more and more complicated questions. Foresight methods provide interesting inputs, but I think we are moving in circles with a couple of methodologies which have been in use for 10, 15 or more years. The question is whether you can think out-of-the box in terms of new approaches and methodologies.”

 

For him, one emerging field in foresight is the “combination of both quantitative and qualitative techniques, with an emphasis on building connections between environmental, social, and economic indicators and finding effective ways to translate them into models.”

12504

0

0

EXTERNAL LINKS


New to foresight or want to deepen your knowledge on methods? Interested in the latest research and videos from the Futures4Europe community? Find out more in our futures literacy database!

Renata Mandzhieva

Renata Mandzhieva

In conjunction with the 25th anniversary celebration of R&I foresight in Austria, the Conference will have an academic focus, where younger scholars will be given an opportunity to present their work. The conference will engage 80 to 120 participants.
Eye of Europe Conference: Foresight and R&I, 15-16 May, 2025, Vienna
Eye of Europe Conference: Foresight and R&I, 15-16 May, 2025, Vienna

0

0

0

Bianca Dragomir

Bianca Dragomir

Eye of Europe Mutual Learning Event: Emerging Practices in Foresight for Research & Innovation policy
Eye of Europe Mutual Learning Event: Emerging Practices in Foresight for Research & Innovation policy

1915

0

0

Laura Galante

Laura Galante

Following the publishing of the Fourth Global Trends ESPAS report in April 2024, Futures4Europe had the pleasure of interviewing the editor and two co-authors of the report about their reflections and key trend insights throughout the foresight research and writing process. ESPAS, or the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System, unites nine EU institutions and bodies to collaboratively identify and analyze medium- and long-term trends affecting the EU, informing policy-makers about their implications.
ESPAS Global trends report 2024: The trends, the uncertainties and challenges for choosing Europe’s future
ESPAS Global trends report 2024: The trends, the uncertainties and challenges for choosing Europe’s future

2474

0

0

Dimitris  Dimitriadis

Dimitris Dimitriadis

In a world where change is the only constant, strategic foresight is more critical than ever. The Tri-Scope Synthesis method offers a robust framework combining critical, futures and exponential thinking, equipping leaders and organizations with the tools to anticipate and influence their futures effectively.
Navigating the Future: The Power of Tri-Scope Synthesis
Navigating the Future: The Power of Tri-Scope Synthesis

1892

0

1

Be part of the foresight community!

Share your insights! Let the Futures4Europe community know what you are working on and share insights from your foresight research or your foresight project.

bottom of page