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Data, Creativity, and Collaboration: A Foresight Analysis with CIVICUS


How can civil society organizations anticipate and respond to future challenges and opportunities in their work? How can they use data and creativity to envision and shape their desired future? CIVICUS, a global civil society organization, sought to answer these questions in a foresight analysis and scenario planning exercise I co-led in 2021.

The project involved engaging with members and partners of CIVICUS from different regions and sectors, to understand their perspectives on the current and future state of civil society, and the drivers and trends that affect their work. This helped to identify the main uncertainties and challenges that civil society faces, as well as the opportunities and aspirations that they have. The project also adopted a cross-sectoral approach, where I led a team, and collaborated with experts and allies from other fields, such as academia, media, business, and government. We invited them to review and validate the scenarios that we had developed, and to provide feedback and insights on the implications and actions that they suggested. This ensured that the scenarios were realistic and relevant and that they captured the potential disruptors and strategic opportunities that civil society could leverage or prepare for.

The project resulted in four scenarios that depicted different possible futures for civil society, based on the interaction of two key uncertainties: the level of civic space and the level of citizen action. Each scenario had a name, a narrative, and a set of implications and actions for CIVICUS and its network. The scenarios helped CIVICUS to assess and refine their current strategies, by testing their assumptions, identifying their strengths and weaknesses, and exploring new possibilities and pathways. By using data and creativity, my team and I helped CIVICUS to enhance their strategic foresight and agility to prepare for the future with confidence and optimism.

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