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Teagasc 2030

In 2007 CKA was been selected by Teagasc - the Irish national food and agriculture research, training and advisory service – to provide support to its top management team for the implementation of “Teagasc 2030”, a major ORGANIZATIONAL FORESIGHT initiative involving the board of the authority that oversees the service, the top management in the organization, its major industrial clients as well as SME food companies, farmers and university research partners.

The goal of the initiative was to develop a vision of the rural economy of Ireland in 2030, as well as the services that Teagasc would provide to the social and economic actors it will serve.

The work was divided into two main phase:

  • A DIVERGENT PHASE of expansive thinking where the goal is to open up the minds of all involved to new ideas, considering them without prejudice to their final applicability in the case of the Irish economy.

  • A CONVERGENT PHASE where the goal is to gradually narrow down options to those that appear to have the greatest significance for the Irish economy.

The EXPANSIVE or DIVERGENT Phase was marked by the following main workshop events:

  • WS1: A ‘SCOPING and PROFILING’ exercise to determine the boundaries of the exercise and the nature of the actors to be served by Teagasc in 2030 …

  • WS2: A ‘DRIVERS’ exercise to determine the relevant factors are shaping the future, what ‘IMPACTS’ they will have on the economy in 2030, in addition to relevant TRENDS that will play out between now and then, and the TREND BREAKS that may arise, so as to develop intuition or anticipative insights about the world in 2030.

  • WS3: A strategic ‘ISSUES’ exercise to start formulating the challenges that the various sectors and stakeholders will face in 2030, and which represent opportunities for Teagasc to provide services.

This activities required the development of deeper insights into the nature of the ‘Sustainable KBBE or Knowledge Based Bio-Economy. We concluded that the Sustainable KBBE is characterised by:

  • Bio-intensification of the economy in general …
  • Increasing dependant on biological solutions
  • Knowledge intensification of economic activity …
  • Increasing dependence on the use of bio-knowledge
  • An increasing systems orientation …
  • An increasing service orientation …

Towards the end of this divergent phase we organised a “Radical Thinkers Workshop” involving scientists, geographers, venture capitalists and policy makers, with the intention of further challenging the views of those involve in the foresight exercise, and who would be involved in the implementation of the follow-on actions that would be required.

Patrick Crehan made an intervention at this workshop on the nature of the knowledge economy, the nature of change in a knowledge driven domains and on how this would change the nature of the farmer. He used the image of the “exploding farmer” to illustrate how knowledge intensification would requires farmers to move from being individual generalists to managers of teams and aggregators of specialized knowledge and data intensive services.


The process then moved into the convergent phase, marked by the following highly structured events:

  • WS4: A first SCENARIOS workshop to further develop our thinking about the ‘Sustainable KBBE’, to further define the issues and challenges that it will face in 2030 and formulate the BIG QUESTIONS that will re-structure Teagasc as an organization in the coming years.

  • WS5: A second SCENARIOS workshop to deepen our thinking on the role of knowledge and learning, research and innovation, training and advisory services in the Sustainable KBBE;

  • WS6: A workshop to finalize the future scenarios and flesh out a VISION for the R+D+I+T+L system in 2030

  • WS7: A ROADMAP workshop for Teagasc, defining its own organizational development goals over the next 5 years.

The overall result of the activity included a vision of the KBBE in Ireland in 2030, namely a

…knowledge intensive, innovative, internationally competitive and market-led bio-economy … profitably producing quality products and services for global markets … that contribute to the health and well-being of consumers and stakeholders … and to the sustainable development of rural areas and communities

It also included a vision of what Teagasc would have to become if it is to provide relevant, needed high impact services to its clients in 2030, in particular it emphasized that Teagasc would have to:

…configure its resources to become a more integrated research, education and extension organisation. Its primary focus will be as a leader and supporter of innovation in the KBBE based on partnership, accountability and a pursuit of excellence and quality in all of its activities

The most innovative aspects of this exercise, and what distinguished it from other agri-food foresight exercises at the time was that its focus on the institutional capabilities that the organization would have to develop if it was to remain relevant, adapting in a useful and timely fashion, to deliver high impact services into the future, namely capabilities of :

  • Leadership,
  • Partnership, and
  • Accountability (Governance).

This became the blueprint for the development of organization and provided the basis for its on-going change-management and organizational development program.

The final Report can be Downloaded Here!

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