As the operating environment changes, the importance of strategic foresight for organisational success keeps growing. To ensure that key future drivers for change are identified, the Finnish Tax Administration wanted to strengthen the competence of their employees involved in foresight strategy work. VTT provided a three-day training for the Finnish Tax Administration on future-oriented thinking and concepts, foresight methods and practical applications in spring 2021.
Enhanced capabilities in strategic foresight
Tools and methods to apply in practical foresight work
Learnings utilised in continuous foresight work
The training included introductory lectures on futures thinking, strategic foresight, customer foresight, scenario methods and technological foresight. Throughout the course, scenario work was carried out in small groups. Around 40 Tax Administration employees participated in the training.
The cooperation flowed smoothly from planning to implementation. The content and scope of the training were well scaled to meet the needs of our organisation. VTT’s expert trainers succeeded in creating a good climate for learning among the participants, even though many of the topics were fairly unknown and challenging.
An enthusiastic atmosphere supports commitment
Creating a warm, creative, and open atmosphere that supports learning was a key aim for the training. VTT utilised both Teams and Miro platforms to build an interactive way of working together and ensure that participants were engaged in the online training. An extensive set of materials were developed within the course platform, including key strategic foresight frameworks and tools that help with the implementation of foresight processes. An article was also given as a pre-reading task for each training day.
‘We used different individual and small group assignments to activate participants. A scenario exercise that stretched across the whole course created a good backdrop for bridging the key topics. It was a pleasure to see the hard work and commitment of the Tax Administration participants throughout the whole training,’ says VTT Research Scientist Minna Halonen, one of the trainers.
The project was implemented on a tight timetable, which was a stretch for both the trainers and the participants. The timetable required an agile approach.
‘The preparation of an extensive training package in a short space of time went well thanks to the experienced trainers, who have a strong background in both research and applied foresight projects. The participants of the Tax Administration achieved quality results in the exercises, even though they had only limited time,’ says VTT Research Scientist Pauli Komonen, course trainer and manager of the project.
Applying lessons learned to ongoing foresight work
In organisations’ foresight work, the focus is shifting from producing future-oriented information to broader strengthening of foresight capabilities. Foresight involves many people from across the whole organisation, as well as stakeholders such as customers and partners. This participatory approach is also central to the Finnish Tax Administration's approach to foresight work, which involves dozens of employees. The overall awareness of the importance of foresight was strengthened within the organisation.
‘The training participants are well equipped for future-oriented thinking and given plenty of concrete tools for carrying out foresight work in our organisation. Their foresight capabilities have thus greatly increased. At the same time, the training was a good test of the capabilities of our organisation’s key influencers in areas such as operating environment analysis and scenario work.’ Bergman concludes.
The learnings from the training will be applied by the Finnish Tax Administration during autumn in both ongoing foresight work as well as a new scenario project.