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The Australian National University

Horizon scanning working paper

Horizon scanning is a purposeful, disciplined and interpretive way to search for emerging issues of relevance to an organisation’s most fundamental objectives, argues Dr David Connery in the second of the NSC's working papers series.

David Connery

Horizon scanning can play a role at the start of nearly every strategic planning process because it is a systematic, transparent and repeatable way of analysing an organisation’s future and—by extension—its current operating environment.



This paper argues that horizon scanning is a valuable and worthwhile addition to the Australian government’s existing policymaking methods. It’s key value, he writes, lies in how directed scanning of the internal and external environments related to Australia’s security could complement the already significant analytical effort conducted by intelligence and policy agencies. Dr Connery also finds that the existing - albeit assumed - future-oriented analysis across government need not be junked and replaced by a new effort. Instead, he identifies how a ‘scan of scans’ approach would suit the Australian government’s desire to conduct ‘strong horizon scanning’, and provide an effective stimulant for future planning activities.

The paper is supported by an explanation of horizon scanning methods and terms, and advice of establishing a scanning program within government.

Download the working paper.


Updated:  28 March 2014/ Responsible Officer:  Head of College, National Security College/ Page Contact:  Web administrator, National Security College