Resources for Civil Society


Tools and ideas for uncertain times

New Shoots – people making fresh choices in a changing world

New Shoots provides readers with a foundation for thinking about the world around them. It enables people to search out New Shoots of Opportunity for life after the Covid-19 epidemic in order to achieve their desired outcomes. Life has changed dramatically since the epidemic: the pandemic has upended many assumptions, hastened change, and disturbed countries as well as worldwide social, economic, and industrial structures. The old rules aren’t working any longer. This book looks at how to effectively innovate, influence, and manage new rules as they evolve.


What is 'futures studies' and how can it help us improve our world?

To handle uncertainty and build resilience, governments and leaders around the world are increasingly turning to systemic foresight. The systematic study of conceivable, probable, and preferable futures is known as futures studies or futures research. The topic has expanded to include the study of alternate futures as well as the worldviews and mythologies that underpin our collective future.


Forum on Scenarios for Climate and Societal Futures

This gathering will advise the use of scenarios in the preparatory work for the next cycle of IPCC Assessment Reports (AR7) and help achieve a research base adequate to support future national and international evaluations as well as policy proposals, such as the Sustainable Development Goals, by taking stock of recent progress, mirroring on the use of scenarios in environmental assessments and policy-making, and enabling further scenario-related research (SDGs).


Post Webinar Release | Looking beyond the crisis: possible scenarios for post-pandemic development

Ion Ilasco shares some of the conclusions reached during a DevelopmentAid seminar whose guests, Alanna Markle (Strategic Foresight Analyst at the OECD) and Vicky Tongue (Head of Futures and Innovation at the International Civil Society Centre), shared their insights on strategic foresight and its role in pragmatic decision-making during a thematic webinar.


The Long Time Tools

This guide created by Bea Karol Burks & Ella Saltmarshe contains a series of interesting techniques to cultivate a culture of long-term thinking within organisations.


Managing complexity (and chaos) in times of crisis. A field guide for decision makers inspired by the Cynefin framework

This field guide written by Dave Snowden and Alessandro Rancati helps to navigate crises using the Cynefin framework as a compass. It proposes a four-stage approach through which we can: assess the type of crisis and initiate a response; adapt to the new pace and start building sensing networks to inform decisions; repurpose existing structures and working methods to generate radical innovation; transcend the crisis, formalise lessons learnt and increase resilience.


The Governance & Development Practice - Implementing adaptive management: A front-line effort Is there an emerging practice?

Graham Teskey and Lavinia Tyrrel’s ‘Implementing adaptive management: A front-line effort Is there an emerging practice?’ summarises the ‘state of the debate’ on adaptive management, three main weaknesses in current planning approaches, and proposes a new ‘PILLAR’ framework – for politically informed, locally led and adaptive responses –  with 15 actionable tools and easy steps for front-line implementing and donor staff to put adaptive management into practice at critical stages of the project cycle.


A Compass for the Crisis: Nonprofit Decision Making in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Social impact consultancy The Bridgespan Group also stresses the need to set clear values-based principles to steer decision-making through a crisis, as a ‘compass for the crisis’ with four categories: principles to protect the mission, principles to put people first, principles to elevate equity, and principles to focus on financial resilience. This sets the basis for quick, consistent decisions considering difficult trade-offs and honouring equity commitments.


How to use “trajectories from COVID-19” as a futures tool?

Rather than full-blown scenarios, many organisations found Forum for the Future’s excellent Four Trajectories from COVID-19 as a more flexible and useful framework for strategic thinking and organising emerging signals of change. Each trajectory – transform, compete and retreat, discipline and unsettled – is based on a different prevailing mindset, approach to change, understanding of power and sustainability, and strengths, ‘shadows’ and weaknesses. Forum for the Future has expanded this into a dedicated live research project to track signals of change for the trajectories as they unfold, the narratives becoming dominant, and the activities that are needed.


Learning in a Time of Crisis

This article by Hallie Preskilll and Joelle Cook highlights the need to learn about the effects, influences, and impact of how organisations are responding to the crisis—through data and experiences—as this will be critical if philanthropy is to be effective in the short-, intermediate-, and long-term.


Leadership for Navigating Uncertainty

Given the scale of disruptive forces unleashed by the global pandemic, the social movements which inspired action to respond to racial justice and the economic shockwaves that have followed, the need for effective leadership has risen to the forefront in profound ways.

This paper written by Liz Weaver, Tamarack Institute and Bill Fulton and Jodi Hardin, and The Civic Canopy, attempts to draw upon the growing literature around leadership models and applies it to the current context based on what we are observing in communities, states, and provinces across Canada and the United States.


4 things to remember when going through tough times

  1. Use futures thinking to ensure that today's strategic decisions and innovations can withstand the volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) contexts of tomorrow.
  2. Include diverse perspectives and worldviews in the conversation.
  3. Recognise that everything is interconnected.
  4. Create more inclusive and equitable futures.

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  • DevelopmentAid webinar | Looking beyond the crisis possible scenarios for post pandemic development
  • Webinar on the important role of strategic foresight and futures thinking in supporting pragmatic decision-making.

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  • Fast Future Keynote Theatre - Navigating Deep Disruption
  • How can we navigate through and beyond the pandemic when the world around us seems so uncertain and fragile?

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  • Scanning Webinar: ‘The Future is Ours’ - Save the Children’s new strategic foresight toolkit
  • As part of our Scanning the Horizon community, this introduced a practical new sector compendium of foresight tools.

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  • Uncertain Time Event
  • Launch of the Uncertain Times Tools, which draw on complexity thinking to create practical ways to navigate uncertainty.

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  • Strategic Decision-Making in a Whirly World
  • Listen to Miriam Niehaus and Vicky Tongue discuss our Scanning the Horizon Sector Guide