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Anticipation 2017 Assembling Requisite Stakeholder Variety

Talk from Anticipation 2017 on stakeholder selection in collaborative foresight contexts

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Anticipation 2017 Assembling Requisite Stakeholder Variety

  1. 1. Peter Jones, Strategic Foresight & Innovation, Assembling Requisite Stakeholder Variety in Foresight Practice
  2. 2. Peter Jones, Ph.D. Associate Professor, OCAD University Toronto MDes Strategic Foresight & Innovation & Design for Health • Strategic Innovation Lab – 2008 continual foresight design studies • Co-founder of SDRN and Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD) • Cognitive psychology, human factors, organizational studies • Practice research & collaborative foresight advising firms, policy shops, municipalities, government labs
  3. 3. Risk of Foresight Biases • In foresight practice we often mix design methods in attempt to enhance quality of scenarios & reduce reliance on one method. • Triangulation (in research) compensates for systematic bias. • (What are critical anticipatory biases?) • We can decolonize foresight methods &/or, we can enhance variety. • Cybernetics (& good sampling practice) aim for “requisite variety” • Biases in variety of temporal cognition may impact our aims Impair visioning & optionality in collaborative foresight.
  4. 4. Client participants can’t learn to be long-term thinkers in the course of a workshop. • We know that in futures workshops not “every voice is equal.” • People have vastly different capacities for futures thinking and “critical imagination.” • Literacy can be trained, but not within a single workshop session. • We always have a mix of cognitive biases at play in foresight. • How can we leverage the variance in temporal cognition?
  5. 5. People & cognition are sources of all methods. Jones, P.H. (2017). The futures of Canadian governance: Foresight competencies for public administration in the digital era. Canadian Public Administration. (in press). Figure modified from Popper, R. (2008). How are foresight methods selected?” Foresight 10 (6): 62–89. As we increasingly engage collaborative foresight … Assemble groups of insight leaders … Do our methods amplify variety sufficient to insight into/for complex future systems? Robust methods vs. anti-fragile samples (that benefit from randomness)
  6. 6. Four points of systemic foresight failure … When we neglect to foresee systematic temporality biases. 1. Cognitive biases in framing 2. Temporal cognitive bias in selection & sources of content 3. Horizon bias in the selection of stakeholders in group methods 4. Insufficient variety in representation How would be know whether a project was vulnerable to these biases? We might not.
  7. 7. Cognitive & systems theory may be useful. 1. Cognitive biases in problem framing Who owns framing? Domain expertise critical & if missing we DKDK 2. Temporal cognitive bias in selection & sources of content The evidence base. Convenience sources & broad signal scanning. 3. Horizon bias among stakeholders selected in group methods Well-known issue in systems/cybernetics. Self-selection bias, Recruiting bias, & cognitive biases in groups. “Who represents the whole system of a future context?” 4. Insufficient variety in representation How are foresight models & artifacts used in practice? Tendency for temporal models to be used as extrapolations.
  8. 8. Make Methodology Fit the Human. Underexamined contributions to foresight fragility… • Sampling of stakeholders associated with a foresight question • Positivist technological futures bias & ahistoricity • Groupthink. Black swan insight from other-than-usual suspects • Requisite Stakeholder Variety provides a reference model • Mapping category sets to projected stakeholder influence • Exposes risks & blind spots for oversampling biases • Reveal variety by expanding & triangulating categories Method of Evolutionary Sampling.
  9. 9. Multi-dimensional sampling by multi-category
  10. 10. Evolutionary sampling • Initial mapping of sampling categories to Question of interest. • Dialectic between TQ <> Sample • Requisite Variety both internal to Q & exogenous to future system • STEEP/CI ++ • Social Sectors • Geographies • Diversity ranges • Systematic sampling to minimize influence of systematic bias
  11. 11. Multi-dimensional sampling in action. Requisite variety to the shared problem. “Only variety can absorb variety.”
  12. 12. Temporality self-selection within groups. “In what timeframe do you personally prefer to imagine and plan for significant change?” STRATEGIC PERFORMANCE Fit or harmony with future environment. Horizon 1 “Near” Horizon 2 “Mid” Horizon 3 “Far” TIME Anthony Hodgson, Decision Integrity Limited, www.decisionintegrity.com
  13. 13. Temporal self-selection within groups. Typical proportion of horizon bias exhibited within my groups: • High tech & Engineering • Startup entrepreneurs • Social innovation • Civil service Horizon 1 “Near” Horizon 2 “Mid” Horizon 3 “Far”
  14. 14. Groups self-select to produce trends & temporal scenarios Mapped in Three Horizons
  15. 15. Thanks. References • Ashby, W. R. (1958). Requisite variety and its implications for the control of complex systems. Cybernetica, 1, 83-99. • Taleb, N. N. (2012). Antifragile: Things that gain from disorder (Vol. 3). NY: Random House. • Jones, P.H. (2017). The futures of Canadian governance: Foresight competencies for public administration in the digital era. Canadian Public Administration. (in press). • Popper, R. (2008). How are foresight methods selected? Foresight 10 (6): 62–89. • Curry, A., & Hodgson, A. (2008). Seeing in multiple horizons: connecting futures to strategy. Journal of Futures Studies, 13 (1), 1-20. • Weigand, K., Flanagan, T., Dye, K., & Jones, P. (2014). Collaborative foresight: Complementing long- horizon strategic planning. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 85 134-152. Peter Jones, Ph.D. Strategic Innovation Lab slab.ocadu.ca pjones@ocadu.ca @redesign