Surprise: Your Future Forecast in Headlines Next Week

You can never get that far ahead of the future even trying to stretch people’s sense of the possibilities for a preferred future.

This past Monday the Business Roundtable issued a statement supporting shifting the purpose of corporations beyond maximizing profit for shareholders to serving the interests of all stakeholders.  Monday a week earlier in a scenario session on alternative futures at the ASAE Annual Meeting, I opened the preferred future scenario this way: “In our preferred future, our business climate has evolved into a mutually beneficial ecosystem of business interests and relationships. Business leaders championed the ethical reforms necessary to reinvent and sustain capitalism as a mighty engine for strong economies.”

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Great Scenarios Inspire Us to Act

In times of high anxiety and great uncertainty, organizations and their leaders turn to scenario thinking to expand their sense of what could happen and what they should do. They try to create their Plan B or maybe C in case the future unfolds in ways they didn’t expect.

This objective misses the real power in scenario thinking—anticipating the future with enough clarity and shared purpose that your Plan A moves you into action. Scenarios can generate profound insights that help us confront how we think and feel about our future.

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Great Risks Beyond Our Imagination

We should fear most the risks we cannot easily imagine, and in complex systems, the greatest risk may be responding to long-term risks with short-term solutions.

That is a key lesson from Michael Lewis’ 2018 book, The Fifth Risk, although the lesson is almost overshadowed in this absorbing account of what the Trump Administration does not understand or wants to dismantle within the federal government. Lewis observes that people are good at reacting to the last crisis and not so good at imagining the nature of the next great risk.

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