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Wind Tunnelling (also known as policy stress-testing)

Futures Thinking Wind Tunnelling

A method for testing the robustness of policy options against a set of scenarios to see how well they stand up against a range of external conditions.

On this page:

Why you should use it
What it involves
What you will get out of it
Ideal circumstances for use
Limitations
References, guides and key readings

Why you should use it

  • To explore how different future conditions might affect the performance of a policy and how you might alter the policy to make it fit for future conditions.
  • To test potential policy options against plausible futures to decide on a preferred policy that performs well in multiple plausible futures and changing conditions.

What it involves

  • Wind tunnelling uses a set of scenarios that have been previously developed. See scenarios.
  • Workshop participants consider the policy and its objectives against the set of scenarios to test how the policy might perform in different conditions. This includes asking what may ‘break’ the policy and how it can be monitored, and how the policy might be designed to work for all scenarios. 

What you will get out of it

  • Helps identify how to make your policy robust to future conditions in multiple plausible futures.
  • Helps identify what external events might trigger the need for policy adjustment, how to monitor for those external events and what the policy adjustments should be.

Ideal circumstances for use

  • Your policy options need to be sufficiently developed to be able to test them against the scenarios.
  • Wind tunnelling requires a pre-existing set of scenarios.

Limitations

  • People can be subject to confirmation bias when applying policy options to the scenarios.

References, Guides and Key Readings

UK Government Office for Science’s Futures Toolkit (pages 64-67).

Last updated: 
Tuesday, 26 November 2019

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