2 Comments

  1. stephen, it’s so great to see this topic being tackled at the PhD level! I see that you’re batting around lots of interesting ideas and approaches, which is probably exactly where you should be at five months. I did a quick “success” blog post http://www.andyhinesight.com/foresight-2/foresight-success/ and touched on the topic in my dissertation and it’s the next article I’m working on. I’d be happy with agreement on a framework, and that could be a challenge for you and maybe why there are so many ways to take your research — there is little consensus on what we mean by success. I would say that I’m not sure sure ROI approaches are going to provide much value. Guess I’m leaning towards: The focus on interventions contexts, which links with the context-dependency of foresight: ‘realists’ recognise that causal ‘mechanisms’ are only active under particular circumstances – which is the ‘for whom’ and ‘in what circumstances’ part of realist evaluation;” Let’s stay in touch!

  2. Stephen McGrail

    Hi Andy, thanks for visiting and reading my long ramble/reflections. It’s time to consolidate and focus, but it’s been great to spend time exploring lots and lots of ideas.

    My initial feelings are that widespread agreement on a framework is unlikely, although perhaps in the very specific context of foresight interventions in private sector organisations it might be possible. For me “better decision-making” just seems too broad a success measure, and to not enable the development of metrics/indicators..

    I tend to agree with you re: ROI approaches. However, I sometimes think back to my first mini career in advertising where various metrics are used calculate the return on marketing spend and wonder what potential their might be. Although you could never prove that a campaign caused changes in sales due to the myriad factors that influence sales levels or brand perception, this didn’t stops approaches emerging for such assessments.

    Any such approach that tries to prove foresight caused particular organisational outcomes (e.g. superior profit, survival, performance, etc) leads to quasi-experimental evaluation. This is common in business studies, but the research often has poor validity and often cannot be generalised. Consequently, I think I’ll steer away from this approach.

    One challenge I’m facing is that Reos Partners (the firm I’m doing the research with for my doctoral studies) does a diverse mix of work. Some has a public interest focus and other projects are for a specific private sector client (e.g. a firm). I’m starting to think that helping to clarify what “success” means in different contexts will be an important contribution and also be a necessary precursor to developing and testing evaluative methods.

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