Today, complex systems and problems have become the norm rather than the exception and a reactive approach to setting policy is proving increasingly ineffective. A reactive approach to setting policy is proving increasingly ineffective: waiting until a crisis has struck to act has far less value than anticipating and preparing before a crisis has manifested. The traditional bureaucratic approach of narrowly focusing responsibilities into specific policy areas is no longer adequate for addressing the scale and interrelatedness of emerging complex challenges. This approach is especially inadequate in coping with fast-paced change, uncertainty and unpredictable events as well as the cascading consequences that come with them.
Those interested in public governance – including public officials in governments and researchers in academia – now recognise what this state of affairs demands: a governance approach that considers the nature of complex problems, the importance of systems thinking, and the roles of innovation and foresight. We propose a new approach to the governance of anticipatory innovation.