Top 6 secrets for successful horizon scanning

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Horizon scanning should be carried out by all businesses: expert
Horizon scanning should be carried out by all businesses: expert
It is vital more food and drink firms use horizon scanning to put in place robust measures to protect themselves against avoidable food safety threats in the future.

That’s according to Fiona Lickorish, head of the Institute for Environment, Health, Risks and Futures at Cranfield University.

“Horizon scanning is a vital tool that should be used to gather information about how the future is going to affect your business,”​ Lickorish said at The Institute of Food Safety Integrity and Protection’s ‘Food for thought: future risks and resilience issues’ ​conference in London earlier this week.

There were six secrets businesses should know about horizon scanning before doing it, she claimed.

Top 6 horizon scanning secrets:

  1. It’s not complicated and it’s certainly not rocket science
  2. Horizon scanning won’t give you any answers, but it will give you more questions
  3. Make sure you look at the key areas that will affect only your business
  4. It’s not a risk assessment exercise, but a risk prioritisation exercise
  5. You should be able to decide what steps you’re going to take next
  6. Knowing what horizon scanning can’t do is just as important as knowing what it can do

“The first secret is that horizon scanning is not complicated,” ​Lickorish said. “It’s not rocket science and anyone can do it.”

Firms would benefit most from doing the scanning themselves, as they knew what information was likely to impact their business most, she added.

While scanning, it was also important to look for opportunities as well as risks in a bid to gain the most from the activity, she said.

When risks emerged, it was vital businesses assessed what action they could take to prevent them, she claimed. If the risks couldn’t be prevented, then a management action plan should be put in place, according to Lickorish.

‘It won’t give you any answers’

“Secret two is that horizon scanning won’t give you any answers to future problems, it will only give you more questions,” ​she said.

Discovering future risks would allow firms to prioritise them in order of what would have the biggest impact on the business, she added.

“But don’t look at the timescales of when something might happen – that gives people a false sense of security … just because something is predicted to happen in 10 years’ time, you should plan for it as soon as possible,” ​Lickorish warned.

Lickorish:

“It's not going to give you any answers and it can't predict the future for you, but it will give you an insight into what you should be doing in the future.”

Looking at your business’s key areas of interest was secret three and ensuring horizon scanning wasn’t treated as a risk assessment exercise was secret four.

“Secret five is that horizon scanning should be used to decide what you’re going to do next. Some companies like to put actions in place straight away as a result of the information they get from the activity, while others like to use it to form discussions,” ​she said.

Finally, secret six was understanding what horizon scanning could not do for you, she said. “It’s not going to give you any answers and it can’t predict the future for you, but it will give you an insight into what you should be doing in the future.”

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Meanwhile, don't miss our one-day innovation conference, ‘New Frontiers in Food and Drink’, ​on June 26 at etc.Venues, St Pauls, London. Click here​ for more information.

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1 comment

Confused

Posted by Chris Beesley-Reynolds FRSPH,

Is this not HACCP rebranded?

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