Strategic Foresight UNDP CO MK 2022 – 2029 – debrief

July 13, 2022

General aim of a well-developed Strategic Foresight process as a future thinking tool is to give organizations an opportunity to explore key trends and weak signals that can help them understand the future of development challenges, and their implications. Although the future cannot be fully predicted, an extrapolation of current trends and drivers can empower decision-makers with critical insights about potential futures. Being ‘future ready’ enhances the planning within the organization.

UNDP CO in North Macedonia has already embedded foresight elements within future oriented projects contributing towards making the country future ready. Some country office projects and interventions that we can mention in this realm are: National Development Strategy, Future Skills Learning Centre and Nationally Determined Contributions.  

Nevertheless, with this foresight process our aim was to make the CO future ready both in future – ready policies and future thinking within CO projects. Using foresight, we wanted to frame a way of thinking that will challenge existing group beliefs, values, mindsets, and behaviors to avoid “business as usual” mentality. By exploring the complexity of the approaching crises through a holistic approach, foresight can validate how relevant our country office be in the forthcoming period.

Our internal foresight exercise was comprised of three core elements. The first one, called the divergence stage, where the members of Senior Management and Key Personnel in portfolios and operations were asked seven thematic questions, which helped articulate their beliefs on the challenges facing our society and the country office. In the following emergence stage, each portfolio team participated in the Three Horizons workshop with an aim to further explore the emerging signal about development challenges in our society and for our country office, and envision three distinct futures & horizons: business as usual, entrepreneurial and visionary. Finally, during the third stage, the country office as a whole engaged in a process of convergence, where through provocations based on collected insights from the previous two stages, UNDP CO staff evaluated the impact and probability of each provocation and discussed their implications for the future relevance of the country office.

The UNDP’s Strategic Plan embraces working with complex systems and requires us to befriend uncertainty, change, and unpredictability. Having continuous strategic foresight sessions can help the country offices engage in a deeper dialogue that allows for more agile thinking and work, one that aligns with ongoing development challenges, and strives for a culture of continuous learning.

The full report can be found here.