Policy lensing of future-oriented strategic intelligence: An experiment connecting foresight with decision making contexts

Douglas K.R. Robinson; Antoine Schoen; Philippe Larédo;Jordi Molas Gallart;Philine Warnke;Stefan Kuhlmann;Gonzalo Ordóñez-Matamoros
Technological Forecasting & Social Change

The rich and complex outcomes of foresight activities are often difficult to translate into policy relevant intelligence.

The struggle in connecting futures intelligence to policy making can be read as a basic challenge in

foresight: working on futures intelligence has emerged as a way to improve policy, but once it is delegated to

professional foresight practitioners with attendant quality and quality control, however, it also introduces a

distance to policy making. Whilst independence and methodological rigour is desirable for high quality futures

intelligence, bridging this intelligence with the policy context is essential for its use. Experiencing this challenge

during a scenario exercise on the future European research and innovation system, the authors of this paper

embarked on an experiment to go beyond evaluating the robustness of the scenarios, produced in a foresight

exercise, by developing and applying “policy lenses” to translate the scenarios into policy tailored intelligence.

This paper describes the experiment, which saw the development and application of three types of policy lenses:

(1) a lens based on the layered processes of European policy making, (2) a lens based on three research and

innovation policy priorities and (3) a lens on alternative geo-political situations of the European continent. The

paper describes the logic behind the lenses, the interpretation of the original scenarios when viewed through

these lenses, and then concludes by reflecting on how such an experiment could be generalised to other settings

of policy-oriented foresight.