iKnow Final Conference - Brussels, Belgium (27-28 October 2011)

By: Rafael Popper     Posted on: 08/10/2011     Last update: 2022 days ago by Decanter Damien


Conference on Taming the Wild & Listening to the Weak: Towards a Strategic Issue Management System for Science, Technology and Innovation (STI)

The iKnow conference will present the new methods and tools developed by iKnow to support foresight, horizon scanning and forward-looking activities (FLA). The main objective of the conference will be to launch the key recommendations and outcomes coming from the project, with wider applications to the European Research Area and many related futures-oriented activities. The activities and outputs from half-a-dozen workshops, over 60 interviews, large-scale Delphi surveys, systematic horizon scanning of over 1,000 ERA-relevant issues, the Practical Guide on Wild Cards and Weak Signals and the ERA Toolkit, can be found on the various iKnow spaces (iNews, iDelphi, iBank, iScan, iCommunity, iLibrary and iOracle).

Target Audience

The target audiences include supranational (EU bodies and agencies, e.g. EFSA, ENISA, OSHA; UN bodies; OECD; insurance companies), national (research councils, risk registrars) and sub-national actors involved in research and innovation Policy Shaping, Risk Analysis and Strategic Planning. The conference will also be of interest for Foresight, Horizon Scanning & FLA communities.

From terrorist attacks to tsunamis, from financial crises to the outrage over the behaviour of politicians and journalists, we have been shaken by a wide range of events that were largely off the radar until they had forced themselves into our awareness. Many of the most striking features of contemporary life result from developments that would until very recently would have been considered unlikely by most people. Foresight work has often noted the importance of Wild Cards (‘events with perceived low probability and high impact’) and Weak Signals (‘ambiguous information indicating that unexpected twists in the path of development may be appearing’). iKnow has developed a library of examples together with tools for systematic analysis of such issues.

(1) Relevance to Policy Shapers

Many policies are intended to achieve long-term effects. But the long-term is bound to witness substantial change, and “business as usual” is likely to be disrupted in numerous ways. Policies need to be robust, to be developed and implemented with awareness of the changed contexts in which they may function. iKnow demonstrates how wild cards and weak signals can be brought to bear on policy issues, focusing especially in its recent work on the STI policy field.

(2) Relevance to Risk Analysts

Risk assessment and risk management have developed elaborate appraisals of the dangers associated with various threats, including the ‘long tails’ which are perceived as low probability and high impact. However, experience shows that there are wild cards and ‘surprise’ developments that represent opportunities rather than risks pure and simple, and that there are developments that may well be too “wild” to register on the radar of many risk analyses. iKnow is developing tools and appraisals to deal with surprises, tipping points, and other kinds of wild cards, which should prove very helpful for future risk analysis.

(3) Relevance to Strategic Planners

Strategy is all about long-term sustainability and profitability of enterprises in the public, private or third sector: effective managers are aware of the need to look beyond the immediate commercial horizon, and to be prepared to deal with surprises of many kinds. iKnow has examined a range of surprises that will stretch conventional thinking about what sorts of change may be in store, and points to new ways of improving the robustness and resilience of strategic planning for enterprises of many types .

(4) Relevance to Foresight, Horizon Scanning and FLA communities

There has been much development of Foresight tools and techniques to inform decisions. But these tools and techniques are typically applied only to consider contingencies that are considered to be relatively likely. Conventional Foresight approaches typically consider major trends and trajectories, and alternative scenarios based on major uncertainties and policy choices. Systematic analysis of Wild Cards and Weak Signals has been very limited, despite a few high-profile popular books such as

“Black Swans” and “Tipping Points”. Systematic development of methods of analysis of such phenomena is also very limited. iKnow is seeking to fill an important gap in Foresight studies.


The conference registration will be limited to 100 participants. If you wish to attend please contact:

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