RICS strategic foresight 2030

Ursula Hartenberger

Global Head of Sustainability (RICS)

In December 2010, Governing Council agreed to move its strategic planning onto a longer term horizon, effectively looking at potential future scenarios to help shape the current direction of travel.

city future bridge sky road

Following that meeting, Governing Council’s Strategy Group commissioned Professor John Ratcliffe, a built environment futurist and a Fellow of RICS, to undertake a programme of future foresighting for the organisation.

The brief

"Conduct a strategic foresight exercise which explores the preferred future of RICS over the next 20 years as an international professional standards body, considering the driving forces of change it might face and the consequent need to develop and sustain a strategic policy response to secure its future."

Professor Ratcliffe’s study drew on the views of many stakeholders, internal and external, through workshops, horizon scanning, use of surveys and interviews to paint a picture of emerging potential futures that would help Council to revise RICS’ long-term strategy and provide a clear steer to RICS Management Board on what it expects in any three-year business plan cycle.

The ‘Just Imagine’ report

The study used scenarios of prospective futures to develop possible strategic actions that might be considered to prepare RICS for such futures. 

The three possible future scenarios in the study are depicted as:

Multi-polarity with dynamic reciprocity – ‘Jazz’

  • Global village of 2030 – mutual give and take
  • World of cultural change and innovation
  • Transparency a leitmotif of past 30 years
  • Diverse players – new performers
  • Global free market – sound legal systems
  • Government most active at local level 
  • Mercantilism prevails – sustainability rudimentary

Transformation and the rise to maturity – ‘Wise Counsel’

  • Familiar world – but failing
  • Modest economic reforms only
  • Ignorance about complexity of planets problems persist
  • Political stalemates on strategic issues
  • Too many interests – no clear leadership
  • Parochialism – partisanship – protectionism
  • Sustainability equals ‘First raise our growth’

Muddling along from decline to disaster – ‘Lords of Misrule’

  • Age of ‘new powers and new alliances’
  • Radically different world order materialising 
  • New leaders and new social institutions
  • Strengthening of government and governance
  • Millennium goals met – if a little late
  • New economics emerging – resource based
  • Global communications networks and progress

It is important to point out that the report (downloadable below) does not make recommendations on policy, planning or structure that can simply be accepted or rejected. It explores the way ahead; provokes thoughts and encourages the profession and RICS to imagine what may be possible. 

It is not designed to be complete or conclusive and it is in part contradictory. The report enables a continuing conversation to occur about the future of the profession and RICS that represents its practitioners.



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