Optimistic Narratives for Futures We Dare Dream

Envisioning an optimistic future can be harder than you think. Too many organizations find they can only come up with their best version of what they imagine they can get today.

This makes Joe Tankersley’s new book, Reimagining Our Tomorrow: Making Sure Your Future Doesn’t SUCK, a good read for those who are imagination-challenged. He crafts strategic narratives that read like engaging short stories to help us re-envision optimistic futures for some very timely foresight matters: aging, consumerism, automation, technology access, suburbia, rural life, sustainability and community.  He intersperses these stories with retrospectives and apologies from his fictional narrator, Archibald T. Patterson III, a voice that is both defensive and remorseful in recounting the poor decisions and values that precipitated too many familiar crises.

Tankersley has long advised his fellow futurists to tell better stories to inspire people to seek better futures. He cultivated this awareness of the power of strategic narrative working with Walt Disney Imagineering and now teaches others through his consulting firm, Unique Visions.

His challenge to us: “Our future begins with the stories we tell ourselves about what is possible. Your dreams have as much power as anyone else’s in setting our course. Craft your stories using the tools of foresight, critical imagination, curiosity and courage.”

His story characters are all driven by curiosity and courage to imagine and create very different and more sustainable solutions to global challenges that now seem insurmountable. Tankersley takes you into their lived visions with a surprising amount of plausible detail and cultural diversity. His characters may help us realize our best futures could come from unlikely champions.

If that is true, the best course for organizations with too narrow a view of their preferred future might be remaining open to these change agents and working with them rather than resisting their bold ideas. None of us wants to be the Archies standing in the way of the best future we could create with enough imagination and courage.