What will the UK be like in 2030 when the nation is post-Covid, post-Brexit and post-Johnson? When there is much speculation on what the next twelve months may bring, some are also looking ahead to prepare for the longer term... Dr Robin Pharoah discusses how we can use foresight to plan ahead.
Transformation in public services can often be a long and laborious process, beset with bureaucratic inertia. But the contexts in which those public services are being delivered are transforming rapidly.
Even an ambitious organisation that embarks on a programme of radical transformation can get caught out by this pace of change. Projects that seem at first to involve genuinely innovative solutions to public service challenges can, over time, become simply a matter of ‘keeping up’, largely due to the time it takes to roll them out at scale.
For example, digitising the frontline and allowing service professionals to work remotely once felt radical, but today feels simply necessary in order to meet the expectations of an increasingly digitally active, and savvy, set of clients.
In other words, change happens anyway, the question is really about the degree to which it is driven and led from the outside, or whether it can be driven from within.
The ideal, of course, would be for strategic decision makers in local authorities to be able to predict the external pace of change, and match that against the timeframes necessary to implement internal transformations. But true prediction of the future is not possible, and even if it was, it would be difficult to ignore immediate challenges in favour of planning for changes that are not yet visible or are not yet ‘hitting the system’.
However, it is possible to think about the future, whilst addressing the needs of today. And to incorporate the idea of future change itself, into today’s strategic plans.
By paying attention to the key drivers of extremal change and evaluating the ways in which they could impact on local authorities, it is at least possible to prepare, and even lay the groundwork, for future service iterations and transformations.
What kinds of long-term change is Covid-19 likely to usher in, for example? And what are the likely longer term impacts of things like:
- Climate change
Developing this kind of institutional foresight can involve an engagement with ideas that may seem unfamiliar or are normally ‘out of scope’, but it can also help decision-makers to shift their position from one of reaction to one in which they are able to think about driving change themselves.
Join us & Dr Robin Pharoah for an insightful FREE webinar on emerging trends that are shaping the future of the UK over the next 10 years on 29th April.