Todd Cleaver shares his views on SOIF2014

“The School of International Futures (SOIF) offered high-quality presenters, varied and robust methodologies, and an opportunity to network with other futures practitioners from around the globe.”

Todd Cleaver, Special Adviser, Strategic Policy Division,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand

came to SOIF expecting to gain a firm appreciation of different futures frameworks, to be challenged in my thinking around how to deploy foresight analysis, and to better understand how to tailor it to the more immediate demands of policy formation.  I was not disappointed. 

SOIF offers a great mix of learning, discussing and practicing, and is divided into well-defined segments.  Led by Cat and Alun, presenters from former government ministers, White House aides, business executives, academics and officials, provided rich diversity on the value of futures work.  They also had useful insights to making futures analysis more relevant to our circumstances where the focus is typically short-term (one electoral cycle) and where the demand often gravitates to hard predictions. 

Set in an idyllic location in the countryside an hour south of London, SOIF certainly fostered a productive learning environment.  We – students and presenters – were far from the distractions that normally interrupt courses.  And staying on-site meant that we had considerable opportunity within the breaks to continue the learning journey and to build rapport with fellow participants and presenters. 

As a leader of strategic policy work, I have already been able to apply frameworks, techniques and ideas from SOIF.  I have a better appreciation of the foundations of different techniques, such as scenario development, when and how to use them, and how to get the best out of my contributors.  One workshop participant recently observed, “I don’t normally like these forums, but this has been fun.”  We are now collaborating on some supporting strategy work. 

SOIF was the start of a journey I hope to continue.

Todd Cleaver is currently in a new role with the New Zealand government. 

Registrations for this year’s summer retreat in strategic foresight are now open, with limited places. The retreat will take place from 24-28 July 2023 in the UK. 

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