Growth vision 2018
The core of the Growth Vision is agreeing on the future options for Estonia. With the participation of few hundred bright people we have discovered the trends and drives shaping the future, outlined four different path of future for Estonian economy and identified the main decision points – key choices of the vision.
More than a year ago we invited the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) to create an Estonian Growth Vision – a new success story that would embody our aspirations for the future based on our collective sense of the future. A story that people both inside and outside Estonia would believe so much that they would want to take part.
Entrepreneurs, academics and politicians have to revaluate their current activities in order to bring about changes in the Estonian economy. Enterprises have to change their position in the value chain; entrepreneurs have to start business in the new growth areas; educators have to create the basis for learning new skills and government has to establish the correct mechanisms to bring forth new behaviour. All this cannot happen without a clear vision, uniting the different players, providing direction to our activities and a choice of priorities.
The essential question in this inspiring new vision therefore is – what will make Estonia globally competitive and locally attractive in 2018?
We cannot create a successful vision sitting in an ivory tower or writing ever new documents in a quiet office building. This would only result in something that, regardless of quality, does not “speak” broadly to society, and therefore it would be sentenced at best to gather dust on a shelf. Instead, in order to find the answers to important questions we should be pursuing a “strategic discussion”, where decision-makers from today and tomorrow participate.
We have led the growth vision process exactly in such a manner, and today more than a few hundred opinion leaders have joined our expert groups and discussions focusing on Estonia’s future. The process of creating a growth vision is iterative: analysis alternates with discussion,discourse in smaller expert groups interchanges with debates in wider circles that attract larger numbers of decision-makers and followers.
So far Estonia has achieved important victories – we can be proud of the right decisions and accomplishments of the past. Unfortunately, we cannot advance only with the help of the rear-view mirror, we need to look into the future and respond accordingly. The development issues in our economy and society as well as the challenges presented by the surrounding world, which are changing ever more quickly, demand strategic agility and solutions that are more complex than those we have found so far. That is exactly why we need to throw the gauntlet down before the current paradigm. Borrowing the succinct words of Albert Einstein: “We cannot solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”.
To achieve a growth vision that corresponds to the developing reality, and in order to prepare ourselves for the future, it is important to explore all chains of thought and discussions. We need to start by dreaming and looking beyond the horizon of our daily activities, to free ourselves from the wing-clipping thoughts of the present or the limiting roots of the past. This is why, when setting out to create a vision, it is important to step aside and look at things from a distance – to look at Estonia from the world’s perspective. If we do that, we are able to see ourselves as part of the world, not as independent from it as we sometimes tend to believe. As a small country we are inevitably dependent on what goes on around us, and therefore it is important to work through potential future scenarios to identify inherent opportunities and potential dangers early on.
Considering all that, the work of creating a growth vision began by studying past and likely future developments in the world. In expert circles and with the help of the internationally recognized strategy consultants, Global Business Network, we have tried to map the most important potential developments in our surrounding environment and to identify how these might affect our future prospects.
But as the future is a moving target and no projection based on past developments can lead us to it, it is difficult to predict exactly what is going to happen. But nevertheless it is possible and reasonable in this situation to prepare ourselves for several different and alternative futures. This is why we used scenario planning for the visioning process – to add clarity to the complex issues of the world and to envision the possible fate of the Estonian economy in the form of credible and realistic stories about the future.
Scenario planning wasn’t a goal in itself, but it was an important visioning tool. Regardless of how things will turn out in reality the scenarios point to decisive moments for achieving a successful future – or if the future is negative, then at least to minimise our losses. Scenario planning therefore forms the basis for defining common targets and aims that in turn form the core of the Estonian growth vision. These targets can be defined as key goals and aspirations, or as growth vision choices. Each choice refers to a different approach and we have to place ourselves between each of them with the options we have. The aim of the vision is to agree on those options.
While shaping the growth vision, Estonia’s best experts, thinkers and decision-makers have come up with key goals and aspirations. All of these are underlined by the desire (that already revealed itself while working with the scenarios) for a more active and energetic country. That means we don’t want to be led by the world, we want to direct our own development.
The growth vision can be defined as consisting of key options – vision choices presented on a scale with alternative options.
The essence, future aims and necessary key goals and aspirations of the Estonian growth vision were first presented to the wider public at Futures Forum III organized by the Estonian Development Fund on 6 May 2010. Now in the autumn, expert groups are starting to work on this foundation. They will draft a preliminary vision by working through each key goal in a detailed manner and specifying the extent of the changes each of them require. In addition, the expert groups will also suggest the most important measures to produce the desired changes in each case. Therefore, we will have created an integral growth vision by the end of the year that will be ready to present and discuss in several forums concerning Estonia’s future – county vision days, youth forum and the Estonian Futures Forum IV.
kitty.kubo[A]arengufond.ee, Head of Foresight Division