We're using foresight to imagine the future of childhood well-being.
As a way to imagine how we might improve the well-being of children across Canada, we are looking to the future. Using a process called foresight, we are exploring what childhood in Canada might look like in 2030. Foresight methodology gives us a strong foundation for understanding what we might do today to influence the emergence of certain kinds of futures.
What is Foresight?
Foresight is a process that asks people to explore possibilities for the future. Foresight uses research to determine where there are signals of emergent ideas, technologies, behaviours, influences, elements, or experiences that will likely have an effect on the future.
Why do we do it?
Planning for the future is easier to do if we can better understand the future. But how can we know the future when we aren’t able to predict what will happen? Foresight helps us to better understand possible futures by understanding current elements and conditions that signal significant future changes.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF USING FORESIGHT?
Foresight makes it possible to identify preferable future outcomes, even if they don't seem plausible given the current trends. It means that decision makers have more time to consider what actions they can take now, and they can structure the changes that may lead them to their preferred future. It also means that decision makers are better able to plan for different ways of succeeding no matter what the future holds. Foresight helps in preparing for lots of different futures, and it helps in setting up organizations for success in lots of ways.
WHO USES FORESIGHT?
Foresight is used by all kinds of organizations and businesses. It is used as a planning tool that helps them see how they can succeed - no matter what happens in the future. Many government agencies, defense organizations and product driven businesses rely on foresight to support planning and shape decision making for the future.
How do we do foresight?
Envisioning the future is a challenging task. The foresight process uses 7 steps to create a strong and well-informed set of visions for the future.
STEP 1: Establish a frame
A frame sets the scope for the foresight process. The Generation 2030 frame is: What does childhood look like for children in Canada in 2030?
STEP 2: SCAN FOR SIGNALS
Signals are indicators of change. These may be issues, decisions, or events that have significant direct or indirect effects for children. We gather signals to find the patterns of change that are emerging.
Step 3: Develop Trends
Trends are emergent patterns of change. They can be technological, social, cultural, environmental, economic, political, or behavioural/values based. Trends are built through a thorough “scan” and clustering of multiple signals that indicate influences and shifts in the world.
Step 4. Identify Drivers
Drivers are forces that create change. They are the broader systems and themes of change that impact and influence our communities and organizations. The drivers reported here can be applied to more than just childhood. These can be things like shifting populations and demographics of an area, or cultural movements and stories that we rely on to shape how we believe. Drivers are often the “causes” behind the trends and signals we observe through our scan.
Step 5. Map Critical Uncertainties
Critical uncertainties are drivers that rest at the intersection of impact and predictability. Drivers that are classified as critically uncertain are those that will most certainly have impact on a particular space (therefore, critical to consider), as well as being unpredictable in how they might manifest or change over time (therefore, uncertain).
Step 6. Create scenarios
Once we have a sense of what drivers are most critical and most uncertain, we create map out four different worlds. Based on the criteria of these worlds, we craft scenarios—written images of the future that help us to consider what living in that future might mean.
By doing this, we give substance and texture to the future. This allows us to consider what we might do today to shape these futures in the decisions we make today.
Step 7: Consider Implications
The goal of creating visions of the future is to engage in a thought experiment about the future. But this is more than simply a thought experiment. Developing scenarios and creating rich narratives calls us to think about how are actions today might shape the future. Are our policy decisions creating a pathway for diversity or for conformity? Is the way we incorporate technology into our lives inhibiting or enhancing the development of our children?
To have an impact on childhood well-being in 2030, we must consider what actions we can take today.