The EFP Mapping Environment is a multi-purpose platform aimed to monitor, analyse and position (MAP) forward-looking activities (FLA) in Europe and the world. This is a unique space where you will be able locate and hopefully share research and innovation initiatives, which are often associated to one or more of the following approaches: foresight, horizon scanning, forecasting and impact assessment… read more »

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The SMART Futures Jigsaw

To better understand the core elements of Forward-Looking Activities (FLA), a practical framework called the SMART Futures Jigsaw has been developed (see below). The Futures Jigsaw contains 36 elements, which relate to the five phases of FLA processes: Scoping, Mobilising, Anticipating, Recommending and Transforming. Each of these phases and elements will be explained in greater detail below.

In the SMART Futures Jigsaw, seven elements help to map practices and relate to the Scoping futures phase of a Foresight or Horizon Scanning process:

  • Aims and objectives – To define general goals and specific objectives of a study.
  • Rationales and background – To justify/clarify the needs for Foresight and its boundaries.
  • Context and domain coverage – To define key RTD settings and areas/sectors.
  • Methodology and work plan – To define the RTD process and related methods.
  • Territorial scope – To define the sub-national, national and supra-national coverage.
  • Funding and duration – To define the cost and duration of key activities.
  • Time horizon(s) – To establish how far into the future should we look.

Another seven elements help to map players and relate to the Mobilising futures phase of the Foresight activity:

  • Sponsors and champions – To define financial and/or political supporters.
  • RTD and support teams – To identify team leaders, managers and supporting staff.
  • Target groups – To identify potential users of results.
  • Participation scale – To measure the levels of interaction and openness of a study.
  • Public relations (PR) and marketing – To increase the visibility and reach of a study.
  • Networks and (international) cooperation – To promote cross-fertilisation/collaborations.
  • Methodology and domain experts – To improve the design and quality of RTD activities.

Overall, nineteen elements can be used to map outcomes. Of these, seven features can be considered formal outputs of Foresight and Horizon Scanning (FHS) processes, six are conventional research outcomes and another six features are ultimate the Foresight activity outcomes resulting from the various dynamics and synergies activated in the SMART phases of a fully-fledged FHS process. The following seven formal FHS outputs are distinct features of the Anticipating futures phase, which access and distil collective intelligence to think more systematically about the future in exploratory and/or normative ways.

  • Visions, scenarios and forecasts – To identify possible (desirable/undesirable) futures.
  • Critical and key technologies – To identify important technology needs.
  • SWOT and Grand Challenges – To identify major areas of concern and key assets.
  • TEEPSE drivers, trends and megatrends – To identify major forces of change.
  • Pathways and roadmaps – To define future directions and how to get there.
  • Models and frameworks – To define new conceptual and action tools.
  • Wild cards and weak signals – To identify potential “surprises” and “seeds of change”.

Note: TEEPSE stands for Technological, Economic, Environmental, Political, Social and Ethical.

There are six conventional research and technology development (RTD) outcomes that are linked to the Recommending futures phase. Some of these can be found in standalone policy briefs, academic/professional journal articles produced by members of the Foresight activity team and executive summaries of reports and publications prepared by the Foresight activity practitioners, organisers and users.

Other outcomes can be mapped with the help of stakeholder interviews/surveys and documentary analysis. They are:

  • New policy and actions – To provide possible courses of action.
  • New/further research and the Foresight activity – To address new research questions.
  • New/further investments – To efficiently distribute our limited RTD resources.
  • New appropriation and dissemination – To share knowledge and insights on relevant issues.
  • New alliances – To combine efforts on common/shared visions and objectives.
  • New initiatives – To bridge gaps and strengthen key actors.

Finally, there are six ultimate outcomes related to the Transforming futures phase of the Foresight activity processes.

  • Renewed priorities and strategies – To define concrete action plans and targets.
  • Renewed capacities and skills – To increase absorptive capacity.
  • Renewed paradigms and current visions – To understand and accept future changes.
  • Renewed socio-economic and S&T systems – To address opportunities and challenges.
  • Renewed knowledge-base products and services – To achieve higher development levels.
  • Renewed behaviour, attitudes and lifestyles – To cope with new/changing systems.