Millennium Project
1998 Global Lookout - Round 1

Interview Protocol

1. Contact those you interviewed last year about the global opportunities - who you think will be the best to interview this year. Ask them if you can share the results of the interviews with them AND interview them about how to reduce the time from early warning to implementation of the actions suggested and the ethical implications involved. Attached is the list of all those interviewed last year to help you know which opportunities were addressed by which policy maker you interviewed. The opportunities, actions, with interview comments distilled from last year are about 50 pages, and you have them in the 1998 State of the Future: Issues and Opportunities.

2. If possible, prior to the interview send just the relevant opportunity(ies) with the associated actions and comments that the policy maker addressed last year. Enclose the new Millennium Project flyer and you might add your contact information on the back of the flyer between the photos and the "For further information" section.

3. Assuming that not all those you interviewed are appropriate for this year's interviews, invite new decision makers who are in a position to response to early warning. You might also consider some you interviewed on the global issues two years ago.

4. For those you interviewed about the issues two years ago, send them the relevant issue, actions and comments from the 1997 State of the Future plus the flyer. They should have received a copy of the 1997 book previously.

5. Begin the interview by reminding the policy maker that The Millennium Project is conducting a set of interviews around the world with carefully chosen leaders in government, corporations, UN organizations, and NGOs to focus on impediments that may delay action. As they know, too often early warnings are clear, but decisions are not made and even if made, implementation can be too slow. The purpose of the interviews is to learn how to shorten the time from early warning to appropriate action and to understand the ethical issues involved.

6. If the policy maker participated in 1997 or 1998 interviews say: You were a participant in an earlier part of the study; now, based on the judgments that you and others contributed, we intend to examine some of the impediments to effective policy action and some of the ethical considerations that may affect decision making.

7. If the policy maker is new to the study say: In our studies over the past two years early warnings about issues and opportunities have been discussed with over 100 policy makers who have expressed their views on actions to address them. In this interview, we would like to examine some of the impediments to effective policies and some ethical considerations that may affect decision making.

8. Remind them that their comments and the comments of other participants in these interviews will not be attributed. Let them know that name will be included in the appendix of the 1999 State of the Future, but specific statements will be attached to their names, unless there is a specific quote they would like included and attached to their name.

9. Assure them that they do not have to answer all the questions. To answer all the questions in each part would take too long. The questions are just a guide to help get the key insights of the decision maker.

Tell your policy or decision maker that this interview has four parts:

First, we will ask for your judgments about general factors that may impede and or speedup timely response to early warnings.

Second, we understand that policy impediments may depend on both the situation and the institutions involved. Therefore, in the second part of the interview we will ask about factors that may delay or speedup the implementation of specific actions addressing specific global issues and opportunities that you select.

Third, we will ask about the characteristics and form of information that has led to more timely decision-implementation in the past and that you believe could promote more timely responses to early warnings in the future.

And last, we will ask about the ethical issues that can affect decision making.

Part 1.

We believe that there are at least six types of impediments to action:

1. Financial impediments such as lack of funding or the fact that the people who ought to pay are unwilling to do so.

2. Institutional impediments such as the fact that no one has responsibility to act.

3. Political impediments such as the action interferes with national interests or it has been proposed by a political opponent.

4. Cultural impediments such as roles of men vs women, racism, or ethnocentricism.

5. Psychological impediments such as the fear of making a mistake or looking silly.

6. Information impediments such as the lack of reliable and sufficient data and information, or the uncertainty of the risk.

Can you add other categories of impediments? What are some examples within these categories? In general, how can the time between early warning and policy implementation be reduced?

Part 2.

As you know, the Millennium Project involves over 300 futurists, scholars, and policy advisors from 60 countries who have identified a set of key future opportunities and issues.

(If you interviewed him/her last year, then share the interview comments from the opportunity(ies) that were discussed last year - preferably you have sent this to him/her before the interview.)

(If you interviewed him/her two years ago, but not last year, then do the same as above, but share the comments from the issue that they discussed two years ago that was published in the 1997 State of the Future).

(If he/she has not been interviewed for the Millennium Project before, then invite him/her to select on opportunity or issue and then share the relevant actions and comments.)

(The complete set of opportunities, actions, and range of comments on each from the interviews of last year will be sent in a separate file. You already have the issues in the 1997 State of the Future.)

For those one or two issues or opportunities that you have selected, please look at (or read to the policy maker) the set of actions that he/she has judged to be most effective. Please tell us what impediments you think could delay taking action, what might speed up implementation, and if there are moral or ethical issues involved. (Put the action number of the issue or opportunity with each comment in your notes to us.)

Part 3.

Now we would like your judgments about the characteristics and form of the early warning information that has lead to more timely decision-implementation in the past. One example is the early warning about the ozone hole and the Montreal Protocol. Please think of other situations when early warnings were given and timely actions followed. Was it due to:

1. Information that demonstrated, unequivocally that a crisis was impending ?

2. Testimony of eminent scientists ?

3. Projections of computer models.

4. Intended actions of other countries or decision makers?

5. Others ? Please explain.

Now, what other sort of early warning information would you like from futurists? What form should it take so that decisions and implementation can be more timely? Who should provide it? What can be done to help assure its availability?

Part 4.

During the interviews last year, we heard several times that, "We don't need more early warning systems. We have plenty. NGOs, newspapers, national intelligence services, think tanks, scientific academies, etc. What we need is the will to act." What moral or ethical issues that affect the will to act in a timely way? Is it:

1. Corruption in government or business ?

2. Lack of honor of decision makers ?

3. Deterioration of patriotism ?

4. Disrespect for authority ?

5. Lack of compassion for humanity?

6. Insensitivity to the needs of future generations ?

7. National sovereignty vs human rights ?

8. Other reasons ?

Interviewer thanks the interviewee and reminds them that they will get a copy of the results of all the interviews and other research of the Millennium Project in the 1999 State of the Future that should be out in mid-1999. Make sure that his/her name, title, and organization are written correctly so that they can be listed correctly in the report and that their preferred address to receive a copy.

Remember, it is always wise to try this interview protocol on a friend or colleague first before conduction your actual interviews.

Write the interviews and sent to with a copy to and as soon as it is written. Please do not send them all at the same time at the end. The last interview should be sent by 8 July 1998.


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