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Practices for Everyday Futures Thinking

Thinking forward takes real effort and it takes time. To be frank, virtually none of us are trained in childhood to do this well. Given the expanding range of drivers of change and the growing number of interactions shaping our futures, thinking about the future well is increasingly difficult. What can you do about this? Let’s look at two practices: using simple tools to jump start your thinking and using them more frequently.

The first practice is about using tools crafted to help humans think about complex things. Not replicating the full complexity of life but framing enough of that complexity to improve our thinking. One example is the scenario method from the 4 Steps to the Future model. One scenario that lays out how continuity would continue in your future, one for a future of slower, probably-easier-to-adapt-to changes, one for a future of gradual but dramatic changes, and one for a future of abrupt, disruptive change. Together, these scenarios lead you to build on the basic shapes of change in the world and to map a genuine range of very different futures. Most importantly, this approach focuses on helping you think about why change may or may not happen.

The second practice, using these tools more quickly and more often, is a response to our fast-changing world. If we think about the future as an emerging landscape, then our discussions and forecasts about the future are like maps of the landscape. In periods of high change and shifting uncertainties, like today, these maps need to be updated frequently. By using our simple yet elegant tools more often, we build a richer conversation that is more sensitive to continuous change in the world. And we keep our maps of the emerging landscape fresh and updated.

If invigorating your team’s strategic conversation is important, then contact us to learn how we can build new maps of your future.

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