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2020 Summit: future thinking « Previous | |Next »
April 12, 2008

There are suggestions that the background paper for the health forum in the 2020 Summit is conservative in its approach to reform and attempts to avoid focus on sensitive issues for Labor such as health insurance, non-medical health practitioners and patient costs. Its approach to reform is narrowly framed.

In an op-ed in The Canberra Times on the 2020 Summit Brett Peppler says that, though the Summit will promote a feast of ideas, it is primarily designed to generate ideas able to be shaped into concrete policy options during the second half of 2008. He then warns:

But as T.S. Eliot reminds us, between the idea and reality, between the motion and the act, falls the shadow. Policy developed in haste, so typical of the Howard years, often is still-born. In Australia, good policy development at the federal level may require three to five years to design, implement, gain traction, and precipitate desired outcomes. The real challenge lies beyond the Summit, in navigating Eliot's shadow.

He says that good policy development needs to be infused with a sense of the future, and that the expansion of our capacities for thinking about and planning for the future is necessary to move beyond the dominant planning paradigm, which perceives the future as a place, not as a rich variety of prospects.

To achieve this future perspective, other more sophisticated approaches such as strategic foresight are needed in government. Not as a separate, special and merely "episodic" occurrence but as a permanent, continuous and natural part of harvesting and harnessing the fruits of the Summit. Peppler says:

The debate about the Summit should move from idea generation to more usefully focus on the modalities for transforming those worthwhile ideas into aspiration and action. How might this shift from generation to transformation be achieved? A first step is to acknowledge the limits of traditional strategic planning, which is strongly analytical, logical, deductive and pragmatic in order to ensure things stay "on track". Strategic foresight, in contrast, is about synthesis. It involves intuition and creativity to formulate an integrated perspective or vision of where we should be heading.

He adds that strategic foresight involves three broad transformative mechanisms to more powerfully pull Australia into the future, and in the process use the Summit's energy to generate more light than heat. The transformative mechanisms include: "projections" to envision desirable future states; "alternatives" to develop knowledge, assess risks and determine trade-offs about alternate plausible future states; and "pathways" to develop a more detailed understanding of sequential processes.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:57 AM | | Comments (3)


Thanks for all the fun. Its been great. Time to move on for me. Happy Opinions :)

sorry to see you moving on.Thanks for all your help. It's been great. You are welcome back to stir anytime.

Best of luck on your journey.

Bon voyage Les. Do drop in if you happen to come by these parts again. I'll miss you.