Tuesday, 22 December 2009

The Regional Policy Collaboration Pilot

To date, there has been activity across all four of the planned work-streams but the focus of this blog post is on the one with which we have made most progress.

The most advanced initiative is one to explore Regional Policy Collaboration; involving stakeholders with an interest in futures analysis to support policy development form the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Critically, this initiative will utilise Fujitsu’s innovative FutureScape package to help the stakeholders visualise the future for the chosen issue. The issue – or in this case question we have chosen to answer through a collaborative futures process is:

What are the social and economic opportunities presented by an aging population in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales?

One of interesting debates we have had as a project team is to consider what boundaries we should set, as the system around the aging issue is large and complex.


The success and momentum built up around this project has been dependent upon:
  • Paying attention to initial connecting between the stakeholders
  • Placing the Belfast FAN Club meeting at the heart of the first deliverable – an overview of futures work relating to demographics in each of the three devolved administrations
  • Holding regular telephone conference calls to jointly discuss current issues and agree next steps
  • A supportive sponsor – in this case, the Horizon Scanning Centre
  • A focus on an issue of shared importance - in this case aging
  • A desire to promote the effectiveness of collaboration and futures work within the stakeholders’ own organisations
We have also agreed softer issues such as the tone with which we will carry out the analysis: so we will look for the opportunities presented by an aging population, rather than the difficulties; and we will focus on policy areas sometimes peripheral to futures work in this area like housing, sport and leisure, transport. Our time horizon will be 2031 which pays attention to some existing forecast information at our disposal.

Our overall project plan includes provision for a number of workshops (the first scheduled for 4th February, 2010), ongoing collaboration between workshops and a presentation of the initiative to a full FAN Club meeting in May 2010.


The workshop we are currently planning for in February will look like this:
  • Introduction – Setting the context for the day. 
  • Connecting – Personal introductions, sharing our expectations and assumptions about the day and the overall project. 
  • Contracting – Formally scoping the work, agreeing roles, responsibilities, making commitments, identifying risks and opportunities, setting joint objectives and identifying success factors. 
  • Collaborating – Creating an initial FutureScape model. 
  • Closing – Review and actions.
Given that we are still at the early stages of our partnership, it is crucial that we invest enough time to continue to connect and to contract effectively.

One of the challenges that we have addressed is how to share information. Initially, we used Huddle to share information about the project but with the support of the National School of Government we are developing a community space on the Strategy Exchange that will be used to share project management information and content. The Strategy Exchange will also be one of the channels we use to share the progress of the Collaboration Programme.

Next time, I’ll talk about one of the other work-streams.

Steve Wells

PS Please contact me with any questions or comments about this work or about collaborative working generally.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Introduction and context

Welcome to this blog that aims to share the context for this programme of work and the progress we make as we implement the various work-streams.

This programme of work was informed by the inquiry undertaken to explore the experience of collaborative working within the FAN Club membership, examine collaborative working within the context of futures work, challenge and validate the initial findings and develop some ideas for enhancing collaboration across the FAN Club – both within and outside of FAN Club meetings.

Click here to review the blog for this initial inquiry work, and click here to view the final reports on the Strategy Exchange (bottom right of the home page).

The programme of work which commenced in September 2009 consists of four work-streams:
  1. Regional Policy Collaboration Pilot – bringing together futures practitioners from the Northern Ireland, Scottish and Welsh administrations to work on an issue of common interest with Fujitsu’s FutureScape – what I would describe as a futures visualisation tool.
  2. Deploying SouthBeach notation to support collaborative futures work. Initial proposal to explore energy futures and tie outputs into a proposed Energy Frontiers FAN Club event in 2010.
  3. Stimulate and broker collaborative futures conversations with stakeholders across the public sector. 
  4. Developing evidence of, and communicating successful collaboration between FAN Club members including increasing use of the Strategy Exchange.
If you have any questions or comments about this work, then please contact me.

Steve Wells