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3.1 Collaborative vision building

3.1 Collaborative vision building
3.1 Collaborative vision building logo

This method will allow for creating a vision for the region by gathering views from all stakeholders through a set of structured questions about the future. The method can integrate a link to iKnow platform (outcome of FP7 project on foresight http://wiwe.iknowfutures.eu/iknow-description/), which aims at interconnecting knowledge on issues and developments potentially shaking or shaping the future of science, technology and innovation (STI) in Europe and the world.

The mapping exercise found that the following RIS methods were aligned with “Collaborative vision building”:

Stakeholder interviews

  • 32% of regions have applied the method ‘Stakeholder interviews – Industry

Regions: CY, HR, NL (Noord-Holland), NL (Zuid-Holland), PL (Warmińsko-Mazurskie), SI, FI (Lapland), SE (East Sweden), SE (Stockholm).

  • 29% of regions have applied the method ‘Stakeholder interviews – Research’

Regions: CY, HR, NL (Noord-Holland), NL (Zuid-Holland), PL (Warmińsko-Mazurskie), SI, SE (East Sweden), SE (Stockholm).

  • 29% of regions have applied the method ‘Stakeholder interviews – Public Administration’

Regions: CY, HR, NL (Noord-Holland), NL (Zuid-Holland), PL (Warmińsko-Mazurskie), SI, SE (East Sweden), SE (Stockholm).

  • 25% of regions have applied the method ‘Stakeholder interviews – Invited experts’

Regions: CY, DE (Niedersaschsen), HR, NL (Noord-Holland), NL (Zuid-Holland), PL (Warmińsko-Mazurskie), SI.

  • 21% of regions have applied the method ‘Stakeholder interviews – Organised interest groups (e.g. clusters, alliances)’

Regions: HR, NL (Noord-Holland), NL (Zuid-Holland), PL (Warmińsko-Mazurskie), SI, FI (Laplanfd).

  • 11% of regions have applied the method ‘Stakeholder interviews – Individual citizens/Civil society’

Regions: CY, NL (Noord-Holland), SI.

Working groups/Focus groups

  • 82% of regions have applied the method ‘Working groups/Focus groups – Industry’

Regions: AT, CY, DE (Bayern), DE (Niedersaschsen), EL (Central Macedonia), EL (Eastern Macedonia), ES (Andalucia), FR (Aquitaine), FR (Mid-Pyrenees), HR, IE, IT (Emilia- Romagna), LT, LV, NL (Noord-Holland), NL (Zuid-Holland), PL (Warmińsko-Mazurskie), PT (Centro), SI, SK, SE (East Sweden), SE (Stockholm), UK (Northern Ireland).

  • 82% of regions have applied the method ‘Working groups/Focus groups – Research’

Regions: AT, CY, DE (Bayern), DE (Niedersaschsen), EL (Central Macedonia), EL (Eastern Macedonia), ES (Andalucia), FR (Aquitaine), FR (Mid-Pyrenees), HR, IE, IT (Emilia- Romagna), LT, LV, NL (Noord-Holland), NL (Zuid-Holland), PL (Warmińsko-Mazurskie), PT (Centro), SI, SK, SE (East Sweden), SE (Stockholm), UK (Northern Ireland).

  • 82% of regions have applied the method ‘Working groups/Focus groups – Public Administration’

Regions: AT, CY, DE (Bayern), DE (Niedersaschsen), EL (Central Macedonia), EL (Eastern Macedonia), ES (Andalucia), FR (Aquitaine), FR (Mid-Pyrenees), HR, IE, IT (Emilia- Romagna), LT, LV, NL (Noord-Holland), NL (Zuid-Holland), PL (Warmińsko-Mazurskie), PT (Centro), SI, SK, SE (East Sweden), SE (Stockholm), UK (Northern Ireland).

  • 71% of regions have applied the method ‘Working groups/Focus groups – Invited experts’

Regions: AT, CY, DE (Bayern), DE (Niedersaschsen), EL (Eastern Macedonia), ES (Andalucia), FR (Mid-Pyrenees), HR, IE, IT (Emilia- Romagna), LT, LV, NL (Noord-Holland), NL (Zuid-Holland), PL (Warmińsko-Mazurskie), PT (Centro), SI, SK, UK (Northern Ireland).

  • 68% of regions have applied the method ‘Working groups/Focus groups – Organised interest groups (e.g. clusters, alliances)’

Regions: AT, DE (Bayern), DE (Niedersaschsen), EL (Eastern Macedonia), ES (Andalucia), FR (Mid-Pyrenees), HR, IE, IT (Emilia- Romagna), LT, LV, NL (Noord-Holland), NL (Zuid-Holland), PL (Warmińsko-Mazurskie), PT (Centro), SI, SK, UK (Northern Ireland).

  • 50% of regions have applied the method ‘Working groups/Focus groups – Individual citizens/Civil society’

Regions: AT, DE (Bayern), DE (Niedersaschsen), EL (Eastern Macedonia), ES (Andalucia), FR (Aquitaine), FR (Mid-Pyrenees), IE, IT (Emilia- Romagna), NL (Noord-Holland), PT (Centro), SI, SK, UK (Northern Ireland).

Horizon scanning

  • 25% of regions have applied the method ‘Horizon scanning’

Regions: EE (tbc), ES (Andalucia), IE, IT (Emilia- Romagna), LT, NL (Noord-Holland), PL (Warmińsko-Mazurskie).

Foresight

  • 25% of regions have applied the method ‘Foresight’

Regions: AT, EE (tbc), IT (Emilia- Romagna), IT (Puglia), LT, NL (Zuid-Holland), PL (Warmińsko-Mazurskie).

Delphi survey(s)

  • 4% of regions have applied the method ‘Delphi survey(s)’

Regions: CY.

The mapping exercise found that Noord-Holland in the Netherlands (incorporating the provinces of Drenthe, Fryslân and Groningen) undertook the majority of these “collaborative vision building” techniques. Noord-Holland carried out all the methods except ‘Foresight’ and ‘Delphi Survey’. The Noord-Holland region is categorised as ‘Strong’ in the RIS ranking.

Description of the method

Observations

John et al. (2015) describe visioning as the “process of constructing desirable future states”. In expanding upon this definition, they suggest “The current state of the art converges on a visioning practice that accounts for systemic relationships, ensures coherence and adopts advanced sustainability concepts, while allowing all relevant stakeholders to provide inputs. Incorporating such visioning practice into regular planning processes allows city administrations to avoid conflicting and suboptimal development, unintended consequences of development with adverse impacts, and stakeholder resistance due to lack of ownership and accountability”.

The EC (2012) provide the following observations on the visioning process:

  • The visioning process should develop a shared and compelling vision on the economic development potential of the region and the main direction for its international positioning.
  • The visioning process should mobilise power. It should attract stakeholders to participate in a process in which they feel they can add value to and also benefit themselves.
  • Visions are often most effective when directed by a ‘grand figure’ such as a politician, industrialist, leading academic who can help promote the process on a larger scale.
  • Visions are often generated during times of crisis, when the need is most acute.
  • Visions should be ambitious but remain credible. Over-ambitious visions will undermine the RIS3 and fail to connect with stakeholders.
  • There should be a willingness to reach a consensus and work towards the transformation.
  • The vision should be bold, with realistic priorities and specific development paths.
  • The vision should identify possible paths for the economic renewal and transformation of the region.
  • The vision should also include justifications for its relevance in terms of meeting societal challenges.

The empowerment of participants

Participation is key to the collaborative visioning process. Arnsteins (1967) seminal work identified different levels of participation using the analogy of rungs on a ladder. Arnstein identified 8 levels of participation, ranging from manipulation to citizen control.

Figure 9 Arnstein’s (1969) ladder of participation

Figure 9 Arnstein’s (1969) ladder of participation

Critical insights

To help us understand the complex visioning process, Nam (2013) provides a critical analysis of tacit assumptions underlying visioning:

Tacit assumptions underlying vision Critical analysis based on reality
1. Visioning is a new and innovative technique.
  • How new and which aspect of visioning is supposed to be new?
  • What is novel and original in participation, long-term strategic thinking, and the creation of motivational images?
2. A clear image or vision of the future acts as a beacon to guide actions until that vision is reached.
  • Is it always possible and necessary to have a visual image of the future?
  • Is our need to know where we’re going always strong?
3. If you have a clear vision you will be inexorably drawn towards it.
  • The accounts of success with visioning and the claim that a vision will act as magnet pulling you towards it are tautological.
  • There is no clue of what a good vision is in advance because one may say ex post that it was a good vision if it works or it wasn’t a good enough vision if it doesn’t work.
4. The clearer the picture of the future, the better it will be as a guide.
  • When a whole community is involved in a goal setting and visioning exercise, clarifying collective goals is not an easy task.
5. A clear image of the future will inspire and motivate purposeful action.
  • How motivational can a vision statement really be?
  • In actual practice, vision statements may have little impact on decision making.
6. A strong, shared community vision is possible to articulate.
  • Efforts to create a shared community vision face the physical and social complexity inherent in community planning.
  • Who really participates in creating a shared community vision?
7. The more people are involved in creating a vision the more they will accept it and be motivated by it.
  • There is little evidence that participating in goal setting strengthens commitment to achieving the goals.
8. The broader the involvement in creating vision goals the more effective those goals will be in bringing about social harmony and well-being.
  • In reality, broader involvement does not mean active participation of all isolated communities.
9. People who might not otherwise be included in planning will be involved in visioning.
  • Those who take part in visioning do not necessarily represent the diverse segments not usually represented as participants in planning.
  • Participatory visioning cannot be a process for direct democracy because it requires a minimum level of knowledge and commitment.
10. All people are equally capable of creating future images, are equally interested in the pursuit of a positive future, and inclined to be motivated by future images
  • The ability to create future images is not universal.
  • Not all people are motivated by concepts of future states.

Source: Nam (2013) Adapted from Shipley (2002)

The “Collaborative vision building” method can integrate a link to iKnow platform (outcome of FP7 project on foresight http://wiwe.iknowfutures.eu/iknow-description/), which aims at interconnecting knowledge on issues and developments potentially shaking or shaping the future of science, technology and innovation (STI) in Europe and the world.

The iKnow platform is particularly useful at addressing issues that have often remained of the policy radar and, so far, have received little attention in forward-looking activities: the identification and analysis of Wild Cards and Weak Signals (WI-WE) and their effects on European and global science, technology and innovation (STI) policy.

  • Wild Cards are the kind of issues that can potentially shape our future.
  • Weak Signals relate to issues that are currently shaping it.

iKnow has used Foresight and Horizon Scanning (FHS) approaches to support the research and technology development (RTD) agenda associated with each objective.

Usability and impact

Impact

In their study on visioning in Phoenix, Arizona, Iwaniec and Wiek (2014) identified the following impacts:

  • A systemic, coherent and sustainable vision
  • Building capacity:
    • A professional competency for facilitators
    • A civic and societal capability.

O the process of capacity building Iwaniek and Wiek (2014) state:

“This required pursuing explicit capacity building opportunities. The planners were trained and coached throughout the project in team meetings and workshops. For the capacity building with the general public, the research team developed a progressive model from mapping diversity of preferences (van de Kerkhof, 2006) in early stages (vision drafting) to negotiation and consensus building (Susskind et al., 1999) at later stages (revisions of drafts).”

Required data

Data is collected primarily through stakeholder interviews and working groups / focus groups.

Implementation roadmap

Iwaniec and Wiek (2014) have adopted a six-phase implementation roadmap for collaborative visioning (Figure 1) which has been used to support of the City of Phoenix’s General Plan Update. This approach is based on the SPARC methodology (Iwaniec et al., 2013). As suggested by the iWork experience, ICT-enabled solutions can effectively support and facilitate the implementation of this roadmap.

Figure 10 Storyboard of the Phoenix’s visioning process which is based on the six-phases of the SPARC methodology

Figure 10 Storyboard of the Phoenix’s visioning process which is based on the six-phases of the SPARC methodology

Source: Iwaniec and Wiek (2014)

Phase 1: Framing the visioning process

The first phase makes it possible to orient and frame the visioning process. “Framing aspects [includes] process function, domains of interest, temporal scope, spatial boundaries, visioning methodology and participatory design. The main framing [take places] at the beginning, but some framing aspects [can be] reconsidered and revised at later stages”. Moreover, the framing depends on legislative requirements and the and domains of interest. As suggested by the SPARC methodology, during this phase, public participation should not be considered. Only governmental representatives of the region subjected to the visioning process need to work at this stage (Iwaniec and Wiek, 2014).

Phase 2: Eliciting Vision Statements and Priorities (Vision Forums)

Participatory meetings are organized and conducted “to elicit and organize vision statements from community members”. In the case of Phoenix, for example: “over 750 […] individuals participated in […] 30 Forums (13 – 40 participants/Forum) [which] were public events”. The meetings should be designed “to introduce the visioning process, and elicit vision statements as well as priority scores from the participants. After an initial discussion based on the guiding questions […], the core visioning activity” need to focus the attention on how participants image the region in a distant future. Participants are therefore asked to provide “future-oriented, value-based statements […]. The vision statements [are] then prioritized in a voting activity”. Moreover, as suggested in the SPACR methodology, participants need “to provide overall narratives based on their individual vision statements”. The finals result should be a list of prioritized vision statements organized by application domain (Iwaniec and Wiek, 2014).

Phase 3: Analysing the vision pools and drafting a vision

During the third phase, the vision statements are “deconstructed and standardized”. Looking at the Phoenix example, standardization means: “for example, the vision statement ‘abundance of drought tolerant trees for shade’ was assigned the standardized elements: vegetation, xeric, trees, landscaping, water management, shade. Standardized value propositions or ‘normative qualifiers’ (e.g., abundant, affordable, diverse, responsible, strong, superior) were assigned to each element”. Therefore, “a vision element is composed [by] a standardized element and associated value propositions. Descriptive codes [can be] utilized to specify actors’ role, impact, location and spatial scale […] Results [need to be] visualized and formulated with the public engagement of the subsequent phase in mind”. The result of this phase is an initial narrative for the vision (Iwaniec and Wiek, 2014).

Phase 4: Reviewing and revising the vision draft (Visioning Workshop)

A Visioning Workshop is organized to discuss the results achieved during the Vision Forums and collectively revise the draft of the vision. All participants of the Forums are invited to the workshop, however, additional recruitment should be conducted. The workshop starts with a plenary session during which the outcomes of the Vision Forums are discussed and the preliminary city vision is presented. Participants are then divided into small groups coordinated by one or more facilitators. The groups are requested to discuss the draft or specific part of it. The workshop ends with a plenary session with a final discussion of the groups’ work. “Feedback forms [are] collected from the participants”. The main output of this phase is the final narrations of the vision (Iwaniec and Wiek, 2014).

Phase 5: Finalising the vision

After the Visioning Workshop, a report with the vision is produced (Iwaniec and Wiek, 2014) by the governmental authority.

Phase 6: Final review and dissemination

The final vision is approved and presented publicly (Iwaniec and Wiek, 2014).

References
  • Arnstein, S. (1969) A Ladder of Citizen Participation, JAIP, 35:4, 216-224
  • European Commission (2012) Guide to Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisations (RIS 3). Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/docgener/presenta/smart_specialisation/smart_ris3_2012.pdf
  • Iwaniec, D. and Wiek, A. (2014) Advancing Sustainabilty Visioning Practice in Planning – The General Plan Update in Phoenix, Arizona. Planning Practice & Research, 29:5, 543-568, DOI: 10.1080/02697459.2014.977004
  • Iwaniec, D., Wiek, A., & Kay, B. (2013) SPARC – A Criteria-based Approach to Visioning in Transformational Sustainability Research (Tempe: Sustainability Transition and Intervention Research Lab, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University).
  • John, B., Withycombe Keeler, L., Wiek, A. and Lang, D. J. (2015) How much sustainability substance is in urban visions? An analysis of visioning projects in urban planning, Cities, 48, 86-98.
  • Nam, T. (2013) Citizen participation in visioning a progressive city: A case study of Albany 2030, International Review of Public Administration, 18:3, 139-161, DOI: 1080/12294659.2013.10805267
  • Shipley, R. (2000) Origin and development of vision and visioning in planning, International Planning Studies, 5:2, 225-236
  • Susskind, L., McKearnan, S., & Thomas-Larmer, J. (1999) The Consensus Building Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Reaching Agreement (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage).
  • van de Kerkhof, M. (2006) Making a difference: On the constraints of consensus building and the relevance of deliberation in stakeholder dialogues, Policy Sciences, 39, pp. 279–299.