We support the UN’s shift from “business as usual” in implementing its program, and are helping to make strategic planning part of UN staff members’ personal toolkit. To make this important change, we partnered with the United Kingdom’s not-for-profit School of International Futures and the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organization (ICTILO) to conduct project-based Foresight for Systems Change Training. Through immersive learning, participants from throughout the UN system identified trends, built alternative futures, and enhanced anticipatory governance. We helped design many foresight experiments and the UN Global Pulse team supported completion of five full foresight experiments that paid immediate dividends. We continue to gather lessons from these experiments. We’re turning tools that come out of the training into products that are shared widely to benefit the entire UN and foresight system.

Our impact

Our training helps the UN become more agile and risk-aware by empowering staff to use foresight to improve strategy, policy, and innovation. This project aimed to change staff members’ attitudes as a step to building an anticipatory organization that thinks and acts with a long-term perspective. An impressive 76% of participants reported that they continue to use foresight tools and methods after the training. 
In 2022, the project reached 300 UN colleagues, with more still being trained. The course materials are available online in formats for full training or and micro-learning.

Our lessons

  • Foresight and long-term thinking should become a mindset and culture, not simply be viewed as a tool.
  • We need to give UN staff members hands-on experience in foresight activities to create an anticipatory culture.
  • Foresight cannot be outsourced to a team of specialists.
  • It’s essential to put tools and approaches into context, prioritise critical uncertainties, and understand the limits of foresight.
  • Key factors of success are collaboration, the iterative processes, and intentional framing.