Structured Foresighting

Crawford School of Public Policy

What are the topics?

Crawford School of Public Policy


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Who should attend

Leaders (SES Band 1&2) and managers (EL1&2).

Selected participants should hold a mid or senior-level policy, practice, research or reform role, in either government, civil society or the private sector. Ideally, they should have completed at least an Undergraduate or Masters level tertiary qualification, have at least five years’ work experience at mid to senior levels, and have a good understanding of the discipline they are representing.

About the course

Develop visionary organisational leadership in preparation for change and uncertainty.

Foresighting is a tool for discerning the potential organisational impact or business disruption that can be caused by social, environmental, political, economic or technological trends and drivers. In this workshop, structured foresighting is used as a contextual tool uniquely adapted for achieving responsive and transformational behavioural change in individuals who may be leaders, managers or workers, and developing organisational agility, flexibility and resilience.

Course overview

This course will prepare decision-makers and managers for the complexities of dealing with change and proactively steer their divisions or departments through times of uncertainty, turmoil, ambiguity and volatility toward the realisation of a preferred and probable future and creation of shared value. It is about broadening perceptions and providing coherent contexts within which leaders, managers and their teams can mobilise and work proactively to achieve strategic goals.

This workshop harnesses the latest research advances from the field of contextual behavioural science in shaping and moulding groups and individuals to recognise ingrained systemic behaviours and habitual, patterned responses that are self-defeating and unproductive. In this workshop, foresighting exercises are used to systematically replace these attributes with adaptive thinking and acquiring a level of organisational plasticity for strategic responses in dealing effectively with a range of foreseeable futures being shaped by global or local trends and drivers.

The workshop is led by the behavioural psychologist Dr Robert Styles, an ANU PhD whose research focus is on the application of behavioural science principles within organisational contexts.

Topics to be covered:

  • Define a set of strategic agenda questions and from this develop a focal question(s)
  • Identify Critical–Uncertain trends and drivers in the system and chart adaptive challenges
  • Define ‘Axes of Uncertainty’ that will delineate the scenarios
  • Draft future scenarios – particularly preferred and probable scenarios that explore a portfolio of outcomes including no-regrets moves, real options and big bets

Learning outcomes:

  • Perspective on adaptive challenges your organisation is facing now and in the future
  • Identify responses to trends and drivers impacting and shaping the behaviour of your organisation
  • Strategically influence or coordinate organisation-wide efforts in realising tangible goals
  • Communicate with impact in creating a robust organisational vision for the future
  • Become a strategic-thinking and influential leader and advisor


Participating individuals and organisations will be more adequately equipped to response to the challenges of this century. For example, in the areas of food, water and energy security while taking into consideration gender equity and social inclusion. The issues being faced by the public and associated sectors are complex and seeming intractable. An effective response, I believe, will necessarily be multi-disciplinary for those who rise to the challenge. Hence the design of the program – an accessible, well informed, deliberative process that catalyses innovative responses from individuals within nested and interrelated team and community arrangements to the challenges they face within their sphere of influence.

Anticipated behavioural and business impacts of the course include:

Participants will learn to:

  • Explore probable (predictable), plausible (contingent) and preferred (chosen or desired) futures through reflection and research
  • Deconstruct the barriers, uncertainties, hurdles and other mental mindsets that mitigate against strategic foresighting
  • Plan for preferred futures, assess the weaknesses, inflexibilities or strengths of present leadership, strategies, structures or processes and their appropriateness or fitness-for-purpose
  • Expand and optimise a repertoire of strategies, structures and skillsets (e.g. adaptive, prosocial leadership) that can best respond or adapt to different preferred scenarios at both an individual as well as an organisational level
  • Explore systematically the steps required for an agile and responsive organisation, and which players within an organisation will need to drive such change


Robert Styles

Dr Styles is an academic at the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University. As a Contextual Behavioural Scientist, his applied work has been a study of how language and cognition functions to influence psychological and social wellbeing, particularly the enhancement of team ...

Structured Foresighting at Crawford School of Public Policy

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Coursalytics is an independent platform to find, compare, and book executive courses. Coursalytics is not endorsed by, sponsored by, or otherwise affiliated with any business school or university.

Full disclaimer.

Read more about Leadership

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