Lunch on “Anticipating Strategic Surprises: Insights from the Government’s Strategic Futures Network”


In recent years, the Singapore government has broadened its scenario-planning methodology to respond to the challenges brought about by increasing global uncertainty and volatility. The focus has been on equipping civil servants with the tools to identify wild cards and black swans – or emergent, sudden and discontinuous trends – so that they can make better decisions in managing and mitigating wicked problems for the Singapore population. In 2009, the Government set up the Strategic Futures Network, made up of Deputy Secretaries from each Ministry, to hone a mindset of anticipatory thinking among members of individual government ministries and agencies, and to build up their capabilities to respond promptly and appropriately to complex issues. In promoting futures methodology within the civil service, the Network draws on the work of the Centre for Strategic Futures (CSF) in the Prime Minister’s Office, which operates like a think-tank within government. In turn, the CSF relies heavily on the scanning and sense-making capabilities provided by the Risk Assessment and Horizon Scanning (RAHS) programme. In a special session for IPS Corporate Associates, three members of the Strategic Futures Network will describe the Government’s approach to anticipating strategic surprises, and present their insights on the following trends. A Q&A session will follow. “Surveillance from Below” – refers to how the general population is watching, monitoring, recording, and processing the behaviour of individuals in positions of authority and/or from significant organisations. Advances in technology, including discreet monitoring devices, and new media have empowered citizens to intensely scrutinise government elites, corporations and law enforcement officials and increasing their exposure to reputational risks. Sousveillance confronts surveillance by authorities directly, challenging the monopoly they have on surveillance. We explore the various implications of an increasingly sousveillanced Singaporean society. “Automation of Knowledge Work” – observes how expertise-based jobs which were once not considered “automatable”, are increasingly disrupted by remote supply and demand, process automation and machine learning. The result may be a broad-based automation of expertise jobs in a decade or so, resulting in very different business models. We explore three sectors (legal and consulting services, and education) to tease out the different dynamics of disruption of (a) where disruption comes from, (b) a winning alternative business model and (c) expertise segments, if any, that require high human touch or human judgement. “Interpreting the Nostalgia for Kampung Days” – The sense of nostalgia among Singaporeans seems to have become more pervasive, as people reminisce about the kampung days and the quiet, unhurried pace of life. Singaporeans are finding new ways to build the community ties that characterised kampung life, and mobilising to preserve green spaces and heritage buildings that provide a link to the past. But there is also an ugly side to nostalgia. It can be about rejecting certain aspects of the present, such as the growth of Singapore into a diverse, global city, and cultivating an insular sense of nationalism. We explore what can be done to channel this urge for nostalgia in a direction that is more forward-looking. Read the report — IPS Corporate Associates Lunch: Anticipating Strategic Surprises: Insights from the Government’s Strategic Futures Network   Registration: By invitation only.


If you have any enquiries, please contact Ms Vani Gunasilan at 6516-8377 or via email:    
Monday, 26 May 2014
8.00am – 10.00am