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Climate change and extreme weather events, automation, and worldwide political volatility will drive changes in coming decades. However, these changes are difficult, if not impossible, to predict. In this environment, decisionmakers at all levels face serious challenges when developing and executing strategies, including being guided by flawed assumptions. Future thinking and scenarios are methods that use alternative pictures of the future to help break down calcified mental models. To build the capacity of its member countries to anticipate and plan for the long-term future, the Asian Productivity Organization (APO) has recently launched the second phase of training activities on strategic foresight and scenario planning.
As part of the series, the APO along with the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) conducted the second training-of-trainers course on Strategic Foresight and Scenario Planning in Manila, 16–20 September 2019. The workshop aimed to develop foresight practitioners who can lead scenario development and foresight planning in their countries and train others in the necessary skills. Twenty six participants were mainly from government agencies involved in national development planning, science and technology, labor and employment, and public sector training.
Welcoming the participants, APO Director for the Philippines Dr. Adoracion M. Navarro noted that in order for the Government of the Philippines to “remain effective and efficient in our delivery of public services, we need to be able to anticipate strategic opportunities and potential threats that may occur.”
Atty. Engelbert C. Caronan, DAP President and CEO, then commented that, “Incorporating strategic foresight into our usual planning processes of merely setting targets and enumerating plans to achieve them may have been a huge and risky leap forward from our traditional methods. However, we realize that the public sector should be flexible, ready, and possess a wider perspective in addressing issues that are, in fact, interdependent and are possible precursors to future problems.”
This course was conducted by APO-assigned resource person Scenario Insight LLC Principal Jonathan Star. The sessions were structured to increase participants’ knowledge of scenario planning processes as well as to develop their capabilities as trainers in using tools like interviewing, facilitation, and course design. Foresight and scenario planning are valuable for both governments and private-sector organizations. By training trainers, the APO aims to empower member countries to undertake their own capability-building efforts in deploying foresight and scenario writing skills, helping them to shape and adapt to the future.