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Where are You Squeezing to Predict, Where are You Relaxing to See Possibilities?


While many leaders will agree with the notion that it is not possible to truly predict the future, in secret a lot of them would still like to know what will happen before it does. That’s true for all of us, even trained, professional futurists. What can result is a tension between knowing we should approach the future as a range of possibilities and wanting to predict precisely what will happen.


This is what the anticipation-provocation spectrum is about (while it may sound super academic, it’s actually very simple). Every foresight project and methodology can be plotted on this line. The folks at the extreme Anticipation end of the spectrum are squeezing really hard to get the future right, those on the extreme Provocation end are really only concerned with getting others to accept that the future can be different from today.


Lum's Anticipation-Provocation Spectrum

To bring this home a bit, if you stop to think about next week, on what particular issues will you be trying to zero in on the one, most likely thing that will happen? On the other hand, on which issues will you and your team be trying to identify more possibilities for what could happen?


For each issue where you are trying to guess right about the future to make a strategic bet, have you properly limited your downside risk should the guess turn out wrong? For those issues where you are exploring multiple possible outcomes, have you tools on hand to derive actionable insight from all those possibilities?


If you’d like to learn how we can assist your team with working through your current questions about the future, then drop us a note to set up a call today.

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