What Is Horizon Scanning?

Last month I was updating my LinkedIn profile. http://linkd.in/dOMJie  They have a service called Skills. It’s still in Beta right now, but I like it. You can look up skills, and Linked In will tell you if demand for them is growing or not. It also shows related skills in a sidebar. Once you let them know you have a particular talent, you can add it to your profile. This has been especially helpful for me because there are lot of things I know how to do, but I don’t have the words to describe them. Especially in ways that translate easily in the business world.

During a search, I came upon a skill called horizon scanning. According to LinkedIn, it’s primarily used in think tanks, and demand for it is growing by 19%. Related skills include trend tracking, institutional strengthening, and foresight, among others. After reading more about this field, I am enthralled. I feel like I’ve done this sort of thing for most of my life. I’m going to learn more, and see if there’s a way to become part of this field.

Back to the main question of this post: what IS horizon scanning? Why do I like the concept so much? Well, let’s start with a basic definition from the paper “Horizon Scanning in Government” written by the Crisis and Risk Network in Switzerland.

“The concept of horizon scanning is ill-defined and used differently by various actors. In a narrow sense, it refers to a policy tool that systematically gathers a broad range of information about emerging issues and trends  in an organization’s political, economic, social, technological, or ecological environment. More generally, it is also used as a synonym for a variety of so-called foresight activities that aim to develop the capabilities of organizations to deal better with an uncertain and complex future.” http://bit.ly/gt7WcH

Isn’t that something? A whole field dedicated to looking ahead and figuring out how to do better.

It’s the kind of thing I love doing. So I’m going to check into it further and get back to you. Here are some resources in the meantime: