In The Art of the Long View: Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World (1996), by Peter Schwartz, we are introduced to futurist scenario panning. Schwartz recounts how Herman Kahn, then Pierre Wack and Ted Newland, developed scenario planning from the post World War II era, into the art of re-perceiving. Re-perceiving was a term coined by Pierre Wack in 1985 to describe someone who could question their assumptions, in order to see the world clearer, and as a consequence, optimise their decision-making about the future.
In terms of the literature we should also mention the influence of Senge (1994), Schoemaker (1995, 1998) and Van de Heijden (1996) who respectively contributed to the global evidence-base in learning organisational culture, scenario planning and strategic planning.
Now, the College of Policing, through a process of interviewing and surveying 80 analysts. scientists, technologists and policing practitioners have published a new Future Operating Environment analysis for 2040.
This approach uses scenario exploration, as developed by people like Pierre Wack in the mid twentieth century, and has been adopted for use by the military for a while now (for example, The Future Operating Model 2035 is all about informing future potential conflict and war scenarios).
Policing in England and Wales Future Operating Environment 2040 (College of Policing, 2020) – explores ten projected trends, and explores these via four scenarios, and points to five future challenges, to help stress-test and future-proof policing decision-making.
The identified trends are:-
- Social inequality
- Unregulated mass information
- Changes in ‘trust’, influenced by technology
- Accelerating technology
- Artificial intelligence (AI)
- Workforce automation
- Changing economies
- Private and commercial security growth
- Global warming
The scenario testing explores:-
- Fragile Seams – disruption and social tension caused by inequality, technology and climate change;
- Pandora’s Box – economic and environmental disasters undermining social order;
- Green Reset – a restructured global economy;
- Black Mirror – mass surveillance technology
These inform the identified challenges for the future; which include managing surveillance and AI; digital disinformation; retaining trust; shaping the future workforce and operating in increasing complexity.
There is much here for policing practitioners to read through and think over, and a wealth of ideas and challenges to inspire research students wishing to use their intellect to support policing innovation and continual improvement.