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Foresight studies at the Centre for Health Protection: a checklist document for foresight studies

Stijl, R. van der (2015) Foresight studies at the Centre for Health Protection: a checklist document for foresight studies. Master's Thesis / Essay, Biology.

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To provide the government with adequate advice the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) has to stay up-to-date and even try to anticipate new developments within the domains of public health and the environment. Studying the future in a proactive manner by conducting foresight studies can prepare the RIVM and their clients for potential future developments. The Centre for Health Protection (GZB), one of the centres located at the RIVM, regularly conducts foresight studies. GZB is currently looking for ways to improve the quality of their studies. Report part 1 Problem 1: GZB uses an unbalanced mix of foresight methods Recent GZB foresight studies use expert- and evidence-based methods, but do not use creative and interactive methods. Not using the full palette of foresight methods results in an unbalanced foresight study design. GZB foresight studies are performed behind a desk, without reaching out to citizens, stakeholders and society. This approach does not fit with the RIVM policy of moving from the side-lines to the centre of society. By staying reactive and not actively connecting to society, there is a higher chance of missing important societal developments. Problem 2: No overarching foresight structure Other centres and departments within the RIVM have experience with creative and interactive foresight methods. However, the lack of an overarching foresight structure poses a problem. As a result, it is difficult to find other foresight practitioners to gain advice and share experiences. It is unclear who performs which studies and has experience with which methods. The result is restricted cooperation and limited knowledge transfer between departments and centres, a general issue at the RIVM. Consequently, many foresight practitioners are on their own isolated island and have to reinvent the wheel when performing a foresight study. Improving this inefficient process can contribute to the overall quality of RIVM foresight studies. Recommendation 1: Use more interactive methods GZB should use interactive and creative methods in their foresight studies to gain a more balanced method mix. In addition, the use of interactive methods will result in better alignment of GZB with RIVM corporate policy, as interactive methods are an excellent tool to connect to society, promote internal and external cooperation, update mental models, and create a proactive and learning environment. The client often determines the objectives of RIVM foresight studies, and the choice of methods depends on these objectives. For GZB to use more interactive methods they will have to convince the sponsor of their importance related to RIVM policy and their added value to individual and organisational learning, network formation, and better insight in the societal forces shaping future (technological) developments, resulting in improved anticipatory advise for the client. Recommendation 2: Start an internal knowledge network The RIVM should promote foresight knowledge diffusion and interdepartmental collaboration by creating an internal knowledge network of foresight practitioners. This will allow foresight practitioners to find and connect with each other, share experiences and problems, and gain advice. In addition, a network assists in creating a proactive foresight culture. The intended increase in knowledge diffusion and collaboration will result in improved individual and organisational learning. This will lead to more efficient and higher quality foresight studies, improved foresight expertise, a strengthened reputation, and possibly more external assignments. Starting an internal knowledge network can count on the support of both upper management and RIVM foresight practitioners. RIVM should organise a meeting with all RIVM foresight practitioners to discuss the start of the internal network. By actively engaging the intended users and asking how they want to shape the network, commitment to maintaining the network is increased. The recommended network will only be successful if there is enough support and commitment from the RIVM foresight practitioners. An enthusiastic chairperson that is willing to pull the network is critical. As stated above the foresight practitioners should themselves decide on how to shape their network. However, it is recommended to start a LINK community to find each other and easily exchange documents. Another recommendation is to organise presentations on finished RIVM foresight studies among the network members. This allows foresight practitioners to actively interact, ask questions, and provide and receive feedback with the goal of increased individual learning and the improvement of RIVM foresight studies. Recommendation 3: Develop a checklist document and method selection tool In addition to an internal knowledge network, RIVM should draft a checklist document for designing foresight studies, combined with a tool for selecting foresight methods. Such a checklist and selection tool will assist foresight practitioners in designing their foresight study. It will prevent groups from having to reinvent the wheel by providing them with clear handholds to design their study, hereby saving time and increasing quality. Report part 2 & 3 Part 2 of this report contains an extensive version of the recommended checklist document (a compact working version of the checklist document can be found in appendix 3). The checklist document and the method selection tool provide the foresight practitioner with handholds for the design of their foresight study (the method selection tool is available as a separate Microsoft Excel file). The document forces the foresight practitioner to consider and answer important questions related to their study, hereby making sure that essential steps are not forgotten and decisions are made explicit. In addition, the checklist document promotes an active discussion on study design between the foresight practitioner and the client. In part 3 of this report the checklist document and method selection tool are used to design a foresight study on nanomedical devices.

Item Type: Thesis (Master's Thesis / Essay)
Degree programme: Biology
Thesis type: Master's Thesis / Essay
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 08:05
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 08:05

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