It is not often that Singaporeans gather to discuss such a long-term question. The IPS Prism project intends to provide us with such an opportunity.
The IPS Prism Project uses the scenario planning method to help participants look beneath events to identify the deep driving forces that will shape the future and how these driving forces will interact with each other to create of alternative, plausible stories about the future, or "scenarios".
The scenario planning method is designed to help us question our assumptions, and thus develop flexible mental models for operating in the future. The scenarios we generate can help us adapt to change, create strategies to tide through uncertainties, and hopefully help us become more resilient as a people.
As a process, IPS Prism began with seven sector workshops with 140 leaders of different sectors in society over June–July 2012. The full group then met in a final workshop where a vote was taken on which would be the most critical yet uncertain driving forces, or trends, that could shape governance in Singapore over the next ten years. Part of that choice was also the sets of scenarios that were developed based on those driving forces. The group also discussed "wild card" or "black swan" events — disruptive events — that might alter scenarios developed today for 10 years from now. They discussed the orthodoxies that currently shape governance. After the final set of drivers of change and scenario set were chosen, participants shared strategies the different sectors they represented might consider adopting to prepare for the future.
The output of the final workshop, The Prism Scenarios, is being interpreted into different visualisation and artistic forms to offer the public a "peek into the future" through an immersive arts experience, marketed under the title Steady Boh? to be held from 8 to 14 November at the National Library Building. The material will also be available online.
Members of the public are invited to view The Prism Scenarios in this manner and then asked to share their own stories about how they see governance unfolding over the next 10 years. They will do this through the IPS Prism Survey.
A summary of the analysis of the responses to the IPS Prism Survey will be reported at IPS' flagship conference, Singapore Perspectives to be held on 21 January 2013.
This website provides a record of the IPS Prism process as it unfolds.
The "Prism" in our title refers to the scenario planning process designed by IPS to generate multiple insights and perspectives into the factors that will shape how Singapore governs itself in 2022. Just as prisms are an integral part of how a pair of binoculars works, we hope participants will enjoy the process of taking the long view about our country, at arriving at plausible images of it and discussing how different parts of society can play a part in shaping the future we finally arrive at in 2022.