Other methods

(sources: EFP foresight guide, Practical foresight, UNIDO technology foresight manual, Futures research methodology, The handbook of technology foresight)

Method

Description

Key question

More information*

Agent Modelling

Agent-based modelling is a way of simulating a system from the bottom up, by modelling the behaviour of individual “agents” or actors in the system.

How changes in individual behaviours will affect the system’s emerging overall behaviour?

EFP

Backcasting

Backcasting is an approach that involves working back from an imagined future, to establish what path might take us there from the present. Backcasting is used in complex situations with many stakeholders where although there is a desired future vision, it is unclear how to reach it.

What needs to happen for a scenario to become reality?

EFP

Bibliometrics

Bibliometrics comprises  a set of methods used to study or measure texts and information.They can be used to identify emerging research fields that can offer disruptive technologies in the short, middle or long run.

What can be deducted from scientific papers published?

EFP

Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a creative and interactive method used in face-to-face and online group working sessions to generate new ideas around a specific area of interest.

What ideas does this topic raise?

EFP

Causal layered analysis

Causal Layered Analysis identifies the driving forces and worldviews underpinning diverse perspectives about the future and what it means to groups. Through group discussion, sharing of diverse perspectives, and surfacing contrasting worldviews and underpinning myths, the method encourages the deconstructing of conventional thinking to produce a shared view of possible future outcomes that can break existing paradigms of thinking and operating.

What are the driving forces and worldviews behind our view of the future?

PF

Conference / workshop

Conferences/workshops are more or less structured events of meetings lasting from a few hours to a few days, in which there is typically a mix of talks, presentations, and discussions and debates on a particular subject. They are common settings for networking, knowledge exchange and consensus building.

What can we achieve together?

DF

Critical & Key Technology study

Critical and Key technology study is a method to set research and development policy priorities for policy makers by applying sets of criteria against which the importance or criticality of particular technologies can be measured. It is usually based on interviews with experts in the forecast technology.

In what technologies should we focus on in research and development?

EFP

Cross-impact analysis

Cross Impact Analysis attempts to connect relationships between events and variables. These relationships are then categorized as positive or negative to each other, and are used to determine which events or scenarios are most probable or likely to occur within a given time frame.

How do different events influence each other?

EFP

Decision modeling

Decision modeling is a way to structure a decision by identifying specific criteria and assessing how well competing options meet those criteria. attempts to develop a model of the decision process applied by decisionmakers to important decisions within the system.

How to make a decision?

PF

Delphi survey

Delphi is survey technique that involves repeated polling of the same individuals, feeding back anonymised responses from earlier rounds of polling, with the idea that this will allow for better judgements to be made without undue influence from forceful or high-status advocates.

What are the views of a group of experts on an issue or issues?

EFP

Environmental scanning

Environmental or Horizon Scanning is the art of systematically exploring the external environment to better understand the nature and pace of change in that environment, and  identify potential opportunities, challenges, and likely future developments relevant to your organization. Environmental Scanning explores both new, strange, and weird ideas, as well as persistent challenges and trends today.

What is the environment around an issue like?

EFP

Expert panels

Expert panels are groups of people dedicated to analysing and combining their knowledge concerning a given are of interest. The panels are typically groups of 12-20 individuals who are given 3-18 months to deliberate upon the future of a given topic area, whether it be a technology (e.g. nanotechnology), an application area (e.g. health), or an economic sector (e.g. pharmaceuticals).

What are the common opinions of experts about an issue?

EFP

Futures wheel

The Futures Wheel is a way of organizing thinking and questioning about the future––a kind of structured brainstorming.

What are the direct and indirect impacts of an issue?

PF

Gaming

Games are mainly designed to aid decisions, planning, and policy implementation, by getting a clearer idea of possible reactions of other people involved. Gaming deals with human issues, making it a good way to help people understand the planning process and other people’s viewpoints

What happens if…?

EFP

Genius forecasting

Genius forecasting is the generation of a vision (or several visions) of the future through the insights of a gifted and respected individual. Some individuals can provide fresh thinking to foresight, and can take up perspectives that may otherwise be neglected in the work of committees and panels.

What does a particular authority or expert think are the futures of an issue?

UNIDO

Horizon scanning

Horizon scanning is systematic examination of potential threats, opportunities and likely future developments that are at the margins of current thinking and planning. It may explore novel and unexpected issues, as well as persistent problems or trends

What are the signals of change?

EFP

Modelling & simulation

Modelling is the process of creating and experimenting with a computerised mathematical model imitating the behaviour of a real-world process or system over time. It is a quantitative, analytic approach that can be used for analysis and simulation of a possible future.

What is the mathematical description of the system?

EFP

Morphological analysis / Relevance trees

Morphological analysis and relevance trees are normative forecasting methods that start with future needs or objectives and map all the options to obtain an overall perspective of possible solutions.

What are all the possible solutions to an issue?

EFP

Multi-criteria analysis

Multi-criteria analysis is a prioritisation and decision-support technique specially developed for complex situations and problems, where there are multiple criteria in which to weigh the effect of a particular intervention. The method works by asking participants to assess the importance of various evaluative criteria, and the impact of a series of options, policies or strategies in each criteria.

What is the best option based on a set of criteria (and what are the criteria)?

EFP

Roadmapping

Road-mapping is a vision driven tool for presenting the path from the current state to the desired future state. It provides a graphical presentation of the nodes representing state of knowledge and their interdependencies, which link the current development trends to the desired future. The detailed process can be implemented in many ways and the method is often combined with vision building and participatory methods.

What is the road from here to preferred future?

EFP

Scenarios

Scenario planning creates plausible views of the future that decision-makers can use to determine their best response and how to react to alternative plays. Scenarios are qualitatively distinct visions, told as stories, of how the future looks.

What are the plausible futures like?

EFP

Stakeholder analysis

Stakeholder analysis is a strategic planning technique which takes into account the interests and strengths of different stakeholders, in order to identify key objectives in a system and recognise potential alliances, conflicts, and strategies.

What are the objectives of stakeholders and how will they affect the futures?

DF

Structural analysis

Structural analysis is a tool designed to linkup ideas and identify key drivers by using a cross-impact matrix. It includes listing all relevant variables, studying their interrelations and identifying key variables.

What are the linkages between elements of an issue?

EFP

SWOT

SWOT analysis is a widely used technique to identify, categorise and analyse significant internal (Strengths and Weaknesses) and external (Opportunities and Threats) factors faced in an organisation, territory, region, nation, or city.

What are the internal strengths and weaknesses and the external opportunities and threats?

EFP

System dynamics

System Dynamics is an approach for understanding the behaviour of complex systems over time. It is based on models describing internal feedback loops, time delays, and stocks and flows.

What is the behaviour of the system?

EFP

Technology sequence analysis

Technology Sequence Analysis is a probabilistic method of estimation of when future events might occur. It links intermediate technology steps into a network of cause and effect and assigns probabilities to these links.

When will a technology be available?

PF

Text mining

Text mining identifies patterns and breakthrough occurrences in large amounts of raw data and information gathered from internal or external sources. The goal is to discover previously unknown information to the researcher.

What can be deducted from a large body of text?

PF

Trend impact analysis

Trend impact analysis is a forecasting method that permits extrapolations of historical trends to be modified in view of expectations about future events. It aims to identify potential impacts of major trends or events and assess their likelihood, time of occurrence, strength and expected consequences.

How will trends develop and what is their impact?

PF

Trend intra & extrapolation

Trend extrapolation involves the construction and use of linear, exponential or s-shaped curves, which describe possible trends. The technique does not provide an analysis of complex underlying driving forces, but builds on projections of well-established causal relationships

What will the future be like according to present trends?

EFP

Wild cards

Wild Cards are high-impact events that seem too incredible, or are considered too unlikely, to happen; yet many do. They are identified usually by small groups of highly skilled people capable of combining expertise, examining data and creative thinking.

What unprobable event would have a major impact?

PF

World Cafe

World cafe is an informal and flexible brainstorming technique in which participants through common dialogue test views and opinions, exchange experience and develop visions and ideas. Participants work at café tables, in small groups in a joint forum and share and exchange knowledge and views when they move to different tables

What are the different opinions about an issue?

EFP

*EFP = EFP foresight guide, PF = Practical futures, DF = Doing foresight, UNIDO = UNIDO technology foresight manual.

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