This week I led a two-day seminar on one of my favorite topics: strategic foresight. The participants, senior level leaders from various agencies within the Government of the District of Columbia, came together to discuss how they could apply strategic foresight to solve some of the District’s most intractable challenges.I have to say, there’s a lot of great work happening–quietly–across the District of Columbia. The session this week reminded me of the impressive work that leaders within District government do without much public acknowledgement or recognition.
So, it was with some trepidation that I decided to broach the subject of strategic foresight. After all, critics of government love to complain about decisions various government leaders have made that, in hindsight, appear short-sighted and less than strategic.
To my pleasure, the conversation this week was amazing. We discussed how local leaders in government can use social networks and open source data to anticipate the issues and forces that affect how they do their work. We talked about the importance of taking the time to understand your eco-system. We debated whether it was realistic to ever think that local government could move out of crisis-mode and into a more proactive, more strategic relationship with the issues being faced by local residents.
In the end, foresight is about casting your gaze into the future to explore the issues and forces that are likely to shape the world tomorrow, and using that exercise to inform your thoughts and actions today.