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Regular version of the site

Article

The depth of the horizon: searching, scanning and widening horizons

Foresight. 2012. Vol. 14. No. 6. P. 530-545.

This essay aims to introduce horizon scanning as an approach fundamental to most foresight studies. It combines a general review of the topic with an overview of a range of horizon-scanning approaches that are in use in the UK health system. Different approaches – shorter as well as longer-term, searching as well as broad scanning – are appropriate in different circumstances. In times of systemic change it is necessary to combine approaches of all types. Only a small sample of the huge range of horizon-scanning exercises has been studied, and the essay has not gone far into the question of how horizon-scanning relates to other elements of the foresight process. The implication is that horizon-scanning should be undertaken on a routine basis, and should be integrated into planning activities from the start. Horizon-scanning is a tool needed in activities such as planning for the workforce, and for health and safety issues. The essay covers a wide range of activities with real-life illustrations in addition to overall assessment.