Horizon Scanning

Horizon scanning is a method to that is used to identify potentially important events and developments. It considers potential opportunities and threats, emphasizing the impact of new information and technology on issues.

Common uses of Horizon scanning include:

  • To develop reports and other documents, that provide information to users about future considerations.
  • In considering emerging trends and developments that could have impacts.
  • In developing long-term strategic approaches and policy development.

When to use it?
Look: To provide context for developing strategic objectives and planning.

How to do it?

  1. Identify relevant areas to scan: social, technology, economy, environment, politics, and values

  2. Search for signals across a wide range of web sites, magazines and journals

  3. Discern trends among the signal indicating evidence of change

  4. Identify drivers that are causing the trends to develop

  5. Collate the signals, trends and drivers in a report and discuss strategic implications

Horizon scanning requires considerable desk-research using reputable sources. It can also be done in group.

Pros and cons

  • A well done horizon scan can provide a solid information base to assess trends, opportunities, and threats.


  • To produce rigorous work, a considerable amount of time is needed for researching, analysis, and reporting.

For horizon scanning to be done well, time must be allotted to individuals to undertake comprehensive researching, analysis, and refining before a final product can produced. This can take longer if done in a group setting.

Additional Resources