Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

Digital Futures participatory foresight model

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The foresight model sets a common vocabulary to allow stakeholders and policy makers to work together on shared concepts (futures, policies,…):
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  • Vision: A vision is snapshot of the future – what the world might look like at any given point in the future. It can provoke emotions and be a source of inspiration. It might be an idealised, positive view or a pessimistic, catastrophic one. It can also be utopian or dystopian, according to the perceived probability of its becoming reality.
  • Trend: A trend is a complex phenomenon (or set of phenomena) observable today that may have an influence on the future, either directly or indirectly, by generating other trends affecting the future.
  • Future: within Digital Futures, a future is either a vision or a long lasting trend, i.e. a trend that is set to be still active in the future.
  • Desirability: How much an individual wants a future to become reality; it reflects a person’s emotional response or gut reaction
  • Likelihood: probability that a future will materialise (or continue in case it is already an established trend), irrespective of the time frame; it reflects the person’s rational view.
  • Policy: A set of objectives and actions designed to underpin a chosen future.
  • Impact: The effects/consequences the policy would have on the context.
  • Support: the actual support given to a particular policy, i.e. he overall aggregated value judgement: “like it!” or “hate it!”

The model to engage stakeholders consists of three layers (see picture below):

  1. Stakeholders co-create futures (visions or long lasting trends). They can vote them according to their desirability (emotional reaction) and likelihood (rational reaction). Stakeholders can also relate futures with each other. In particular, they can analyse the causality links between them (for instance, how to get to a future 'a world without unemployment'), or see a future as the extrapolation (unfolding) of current trends. 
  2. Stakeholders co-create policy ideas to underpin the futures. They can vote policy ideas according to the perceived impact and the actual support. Policies are expressed as Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Timely actions. Policies can be packaged into groups or pillars. Policies are analysed with techniques such as What-If analysis or SWOT analysis to better inform their assessment and actual voting.
  3. Stakeholders engage into large-scale online role games to simulate the possible behavioural responses of key actors (or agents) affected by the policies (for instance the commission, member states, or particular stakeholders). This simulation would allow anticipating the complex flows of actions/reactions that would occur should the policies be implemented. This form of 'reality check' will in turn inform possible refinements and improvements of the vision and the policy ideas.