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Regions are training preparedness for future crises

Sweden's 21 regions have, together with Vinnova, SKR and the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth, worked to increase preparedness for future crises with the help of different scenarios. The project is about foresight and about increasing the ability to see further into the future than 5 years.

This web page has been machine translated. If there are any uncertainties, please refer to the Swedish text.

The method is already spreading like wildfire in Sweden's regions. The purpose is to create scenarios about what is so far in the future that we do not have data to make forecasts from. The lessons learned of the project are summarized in the report "Region 2050" which was published before the pandemic broke out in the spring of 2020. It describes methods and experiences regarding future reconnaissance and preparedness.

- We are good at doing analyzes based on nu-data, but we are untrained to look further into the future.

Eva Moe runs Reglab, which is a forum for learning and regional development. Here, regions, authorities, researchers and others meet and run joint development projects. In the project on foresight, the regions have trained methodically to learn to make decisions based on "experiences from the future", as Eva Moe puts it. They are training to increase their imagination in order to be prepared for future crises.

To plan based on scenarios about what we do not yet have expertise and facts about.

- We simply need to practice imagining what can happen on the road that makes the curves go in a completely different direction? Work in other ways and teach us to increase our imagination.

Decisions about the future are usually made based on our experiences from the past. Foresight is an excellent planning tool. A tool to create scenarios about what we do not yet have expertise and facts about. It helps us to be prepared for future crises, among other things.

In the report "Region 2050 - a journey to the future round trip", Reglab has compiled its experiences with various foresight methods. The report describes how the regions can plan for uncertainty and how we can increase knowledge about foresight methodology and strategic analysis.

Rapporten Region 2050 - where are we going?

Suddenly, everyone wanted to work with scenarios

Foresight was initiated as early as 2016 when Reglab's members wanted to explore new methods for monitoring the world around them. They wanted to train their readiness and ability to see development paths.

When the pandemic became a fact in April 2020, the project was brought to the fore again. Regional developers began contacting Eva Moe and the foresight methods were raised again.

- Many were very handcuffed in the spring of 2020. Then we thought that it would be resolved and that the crisis would be over by the autumn.

Suddenly, everyone wanted to work with scenarios. Reglab was called to an extra meeting within Framsyn in the spring of 2020.

- When we so clearly encountered a revolutionary phenomenon like a pandemic, it became an eye opener. It is not enough to make forecasts. We realized that we have to work differently.

Foresight routine in several large companies

- It is interesting that large companies that are market dependent have long used foresight methods - because they are dependent on not being surprised. We need the same preparedness in the public sector.

Managers should devote at least 20 percent of their time to working with the future instead of putting out today's fires.

More than 80 people have participated in the project Framsyn from all of Sweden's 21 regions, the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth, Vinnova and SKR - to learn more about the method.

Why work with foresight?

- We are so learned and educated to base decisions on facts - from experts in various fields. But about the future, we do not have all the facts. To be able to face the future, we need to train our imagination. Teach the brain to think in more directions to be prepared when, for example, crises occur.

We need to think in terms of: Think about… and: What would it look like if… and so on.

It is about creating a culture where it is important to say: What if it were like this? What do we do then?

In the public sector, managers should set aside at least 20 percent of their time to work with the future instead of extinguishing today's fires - which we would have avoided some of if we had thought a little in advance. For example, the danger of pandemics was a well-known scenario. We spend a lot of time on traditional world reconnaissance. But more time is needed where we do not have so many facts.

For me, it is about creating a culture where it is important to say: “What if it were like this? Think again - what would that mean? ”

This is how Foresight was implemented in practice

Reglab's 24 members sent 4 people each to workshops in foresight methodology. Support in the training included Demos Helsinki and the Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies. Afterwards, the participants took the method home to their organizations to train and share the knowledge with their colleagues. The method was spread via department and unit meetings - with great support from the respective directors of development in each region.

In practical terms, the participants trained in, among other things, scenarios, future matrices, strategy development and design of experiments - and what so-called strong and weak signals can mean for societal development.

The method is now used in the regions' development strategies
In year two, this led more to new ways of working and experimental methods around different insights into how the world can change. It was based on questions about how it is possible to continue working with the method based on given scenarios.

The result was that the regions introduced this type of foresight in their external monitoring of departments and meetings. Foresight as a method is used, for example, in the work with the regional development strategies (RUS), which is a single document per term of office in each region. In this job, analyzes are always made about the current situation and about how the region wants the future to look like.

Foresight is an ongoing work and several in-depth seminars have been held. The method is already spreading like wildfire in Sweden's regions.

Any questions?

Adrian Solitander

Programme Manager

Anna Bjurström

Programme Manager

+46 8 473 30 89

Maria Kaaman

Programme Manager

+46 8 473 31 74

Last updated 21 June 2021

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