Horizon Scanning a response to Benefits Changes: Has anyone done this?

Dear All,

I am interested in the way public sector, in particular local government, uses horizon scanning to deal with issues that are on the horizon.  These are problems or issues that will occur, such as an upcoming election or the roll out of a new policy, which require an organisation to map or develop actions plans.

In most cases, people will automatically do a linear plan.  On Day X we will receive 123 on Day x -25 (before the event) we will have put @@@ systems in place to deal with problems or issues A, B, and C. On Day X+25 we will do (or have done)  Apple, Orange, and Pear, which are response to Day X.

The Day X, I am thinking about is the change associate with the Universal Credit, but it could be any day in the future, such as the next general election.  We, in local government, have known that this change was coming since the Welfare Reform Bill was passed. Since it was passed, the Bill has turned into a series of plans and actions for organisations to develop.

My questions are these:

First, does anyone know of any horizon scanning that has been done either in central government or local government concerning the changes and what they may mean?

Second, has anyone considered what tools they would use for this work?  For example, three tools that came to mind were:



Reverse Engineering

Third, if you have not done horizon scanning work, why not? If this work has not been done, I wonder if it is because much of it is implicit in responses being prepared. For example, there amy be an implicit use of reverse engineering as people work with organisational assumptions based on organisational constraints and resources.  At the same time, it may be that any policy response by local government to such a change that it will be reactive rather than proactive so horizon scanning may not be appropriate.

If you have not done any horizon scanning, I would be interested why it was not used.

Is it somethign that requires more time but less pay off?

Is it that the expertise (perceived or real) is not available so there is not desire to use it? 

Is it that the approach is not suitable to the issue.  In other words, the organisation will respond without considering scenarios?  For example, how will central government deall with more more or less claimants, or better or worse IT problems, or a better or worse economy.

Perhaps the lesson to consider is that local government does not lend itself to horizon scanning. I would be interested in your views.


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David Herrington 8 Years Ago
Hi Lawrence I wonder whether it is more an issue of awareness as a function of time and belief that the tools you mentioned will make a difference. Those who don't try to use them (perhaps at the outset with some available "expert" help/ facilitation) will instantly default to their own craft/ experience to enable them to "get by" without recognising that a different approach will enable them to see from a different (& perhaps a wider?) perspective. It is easy in the world of multiple priorities and reducing budgets for so many managers and staff to reinforce behaviours of habit. I do however see that the horizon scanning approach can help to free up some of that "head down" thinking. I have used the techniques you described to create dialogue and discussion at a national forensic investigators conference a few years ago. The methodology I developed with the head of profession in my organisation and it attracted interest from central government departments as well as regulators - all of whom were very positive. The outcome was a series of stretching strategies in relation to a series of scenarios, with defined trigger points along the way. The whole event was designed to be operationally useful and to feed into a national programme of change. I am currently developing the scanning approaches to support the collaboration and progression of the organisation I work for.