Weak signals and wild cards in water and sanitation services: exploring an approach for water utilities

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    Abstract

    Weak signals and wild cards are used to scan the environment and make systems more sensitive to emerging changes. In this paper, the applicability of weak signals and wild cards is experimented in a case of a highly reliable and conservative sector, water and sanitation services. The aim is to explore an approach suitable for water utilities. The paper discusses different theoretical and methodological approaches to weak signals and wild cards, and reflects these in relation to the chosen approach. It is argued that the process of weak signals and wild cards can serve as a communication and reflection exercise for an organisation like a water utility. Furthermore, incorporating weak signals and wild cards can be an essential part in futures thinking, challenge prevailing mental models, and make systems more open to sense and learn from their environment. It is recommended for water utilities to apply a loose approach on weak signals and wild cards and embed it as a part of their organisational culture. However, it should be remembered that the approach should always be chosen to match the overall objectives and context.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-12
    Number of pages12
    JournalEuropean Journal of Futures Research
    Volume5
    Issue number4
    Early online date4 Jun 2017
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2017
    Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Keywords

    • Water and sanitation services
    • Weak signals
    • Wild cards

    Publication forum classification

    • Publication forum level 1

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