Uwe Christian Plachetka / Focus Arbeitsseite / Evaluation Sheets /
Futur German Foresight Exercise







Name: method name

Method recommended by Siedschlag's papers

Characterization of Futur: Method mix (see description below)

Quotation: Futur is not a classical Foresight activity but consisted of a series of Foresight activities taking place in Germany over a number of years. These activities included a key technologies project (Technologies at the Beginning of the 21st Century) and national Delphi surveys (Delphi '93, Mini Delphis, Delphi '98). International comparisons were also conducted as a part of national Foresight. After general elections and a change in the government, a new more participatory approach was aimed for. Instead of a Delphi, a different mixture of methods was to be applied. The aim of the exercise was to break with the conventional decision-making process for agenda-setting and prioritisation, which was characterised by a closed and rather opaque interaction between research institutions, industry, project managing agencies (Projektträger) and ministerial bureaucrats in charge of research funding. There was no overall systematic approach to developing new projects or guiding research, technology and education, although the different BMBF departments have their own approaches to identifying subjects that have to be supported. The ministry's strategists were increasingly concerned about the risk of missing important new issues if the funding agenda is based solely on traditional mechanisms driven by the actors involved. Therefore, Futur aimed to bring in interdisciplinary ideas from the demand-side so that new projects or programmes could be developed.

End of quotation: http://forlearn.jrc.ec.europa.eu/guide/6_examples/futur.htm#Background

Author: organization/department name, and/or complete name of the author.Futur - the German Research Dialogue

Type of Result: indicate type of the final out-put.

Expected outcomes

(Quot) ''The major outcomes of the process are intended to be interdisciplinary, problem-oriented "Lead Visions" (Leitvisionen). They are intended to reflect the demand for research and be translated into publicly funded research programmes or projects. Participation of a broader audience in various kinds of activities and the combination of different creativity, communication and analytical tools are additional characteristics of the process.The Lead Visions, as the tangible output of the Futur process, are not intended to be utopian visions but to include pragmatic, normative features within a broader framework. They aim to:

  • Include precise objectives.
  • Include a new quality of problem-solving (by a mix of methods and participants) in the way they were developed.
  • Be interdisciplinary and integrate multiple perspectives: the outcomes are not supposed to be linked with certain disciplines and technologies, but to be more systemic in character and interdisciplinary in nature - as well as taking into account the different perspectives of heterogeneous stakeholder groups.
  • Start from a societal need and work out the necessary steps in research to meet these needs.
  • Be communicated to the public (i.e. "understandable to everyone").
Be of high economic relevance.

End of quotation: http://forlearn.jrc.ec.europa.eu/guide/6_examples/futur.htm#ExpectedOutcomes

tangible and intangible outcomes


In Futur, the tangible outputs were the Lead Vision papers, which contain:

  • The final heading,
  • Goal and vision,
  • A topic description,
  • A description of the relevance for industry and civil society,
  • Future research topics,
  • The current state of research as well as existing programmes,
  • A scenario which illustrates the visionary content of the Lead Vision and makes the potential future developments tangible and conceivable.
Other outputs were regarded to be the different papers used for discussions and a lot of unstructured or structured material available in the workspace or the web site.

Intangible outcomes in Futur

Networking seems likely to be an intangible output from such a workshop-based Foresight exercise, but it is difficult to demonstrate. Interdisciplinarity seems to be supported as people from different communities and different disciplines have to work together. Fostering discussion about the future among the interested public was also an aim but Futur is still relatively unknown in Germany.

In-puts and out-puts
indicate the in-puts needed to carry out the method and the out-puts of the process.


indicate the average cost of implementation of the method (economic [€] and human resources [man-hour]).

Permanent foresight exercises: This caused the costs of Futur to rise to about €3 million a year, compared to the Delphi '98 study which cost about €800,000 over its whole time frame (from 1997 to 2000), including publications such as the report, a book, 8 newsletters, as well as workshops and a small conference in the end. This sharp rise in costs shows the wide range of potential costs national Foresight exercises can incur.

Time requirements

indicate the average time required to execute the method until the results are obtained. Specify preparation time, implementation time and recompilation/analysis time of the information gathered if suitable.

End-User involvement

indicate if user involved in the study, and in which phase (definition of the scenarios, analysis, etc.).How the end-user is involved: indicate how the end-user is involved in study (interviews, questionnaires, workshops, etc.).

The users were defined ex ante.

Other requirements
indicate other specific requirements (if needed) that go beyond necessary economic or human resources, to carry out the method.

Lot of requirements for collection of information required, "morphological analysis" as stated by Tosato.


Best practices applicable to FOCUS

best practices that can be implemented and used within the FOCUS methodology.

      • / The recursive foresight core.
Inconveniences of its application to FOCUS====:
inconveniences that make the method not suitable to FOCUS.

Implementation phase
indicate to what “possible phase” corresponding to the future FOCUS methodology could it be applied (definition, execution or analysis of scenarios, definition of EU roles, identification of technologies, definition of roadmaps, etc.)


indicate the level of difficulty of use of the method and its implementation in relation with FOCUS work plan (there is a 4 month time frame for each thematic scenario development).

(Quotation) The main challenges during Futur were:

  1. Approaching the participants and convincing them to participate, and identifying experts who have a knowledge on the future.
  2. Soft methods like workshops have to be prepared in detail and it is always difficult to ask the right questions. Assessments have to be added to find out what is really important and where the focus lies. As everyone has his or her own opinion, this is difficult to judge. More formal methods (e.g. votes) are helpful for this, but have to be applied very carefully not to cause misunderstandings and to relay the facts appropriately and in an understandable way.
  3. The transfer of knowledge from one session to the next is a major challenge.
  4. To link Foresight with the sponsors and decision-makers turned out to be crucial.
  5. There is the tension of being open to any results at the beginning and selecting suitable topics for BMBF at the end. This filtering process is difficult to organise and to explain.
  6. There is still the question "what is the demand"? "whose is it"?
  7. Managing a large consortium and many participants in a way that all are informed about the necessary developments is very challenging.
Lessons learned in Futur

Futur was designed as a learning process and in-between many small and large lessons could be learned. Most of them are written down in the evaluation documents which are not published until now. But some major points are:

  1. Futur is too complicated to be explained easily.It is helpful if the objectives of a foresight are clear from the beginning and do not change in-between.
  2. Futur got more and more expensive. Saving resources is sometimes difficult.
  3. How much participation is wanted and needed has to be clarified.
  4. It is very difficult to reach participants beyond the usual experts. And experts are needed as soon as complicated subjects are discussed.
  5. Incentives for participation are needed since people invested a lot of time.
  6. It should be clear from the beginning who decides what and when so that participants are not disappointed when their topics are not the "winners" of the selections.
  7. Only informal methods are difficult to communicate.
  8. It should be clarified what is foresight, and what serves other purposes, e.g. general public relations, large events.
(End of quotation) [1]

Required adaptations

indicate “possible” required adaptations of the methodology in order to be applied to FOCUS.

Adaptions as suggested by Uwe C. Plachetka:

  • Make sure that the websites are accessible, if not, make a backup copy.
IT support

indicate if the method is supported by any IT tool, or if it feasible to be supported or not by an IT implemented process.


Include the description of the method.


The process was characterized by a permanent foresight
production core as shown graphically here:

Source: http://forlearn.jrc.ec.europa.eu/guide/6_examples/futur.htm#Background

  1. Workshops
Include method diagram (phases, steps).

Second phase

Topic selection on a continous basis. Personal selection to criteria given here: There was no institutionalised co-nomination process, so that the participants were nominated by the consortium, by other Futur participants and they could apply themselves. In addition, there were additional nominations to bring necessary expertise into the Focus Groups, which is the core of the foresight study. Furthermore, there is just one pool of participants, to do away with the division into "inner" and "outer" circle in order to avoid the opaque intra-institutional communication systems.

[1] Source http://forlearn.jrc.ec.europa.eu/guide/6_examples/futur.htm#Background