Reports from the Knowledge Labs about our recent findings, research topics, and interviews with lifestyle leaders who are creating their own futures.

How to stimulate your own powers of foresight. Consider the following thought provokers. Ask yourself, in these categories what are the brand new trends and forces? Which are the ones growing in importance? Which current forces are loosing their steam? Which have peaked or are reversing themselves? Which are the "wildcards" about to disrupt us in the future? POLITICAL AND TECHNICAL thought for food: Electronics, Materials, Energy, Fossil, Nuclear, Alternative, Other, Manufacturing (techniques), Agriculture, Machinery and Equipment, Distribution, Transportation (Urban, Mass, Personal, Surface, Sea, Subsurface, Space), Communication (Printed, Spoken, Interactive, Media), Computers (Information, Knowledge, Storage & Retrieval, Design, Network Resources), Post-Cold War, Third World, Conflict (Local, Regional, Global), Arms Limitation, Undeclared Wars, Terrorism, Nuclear Proliferation, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Governments (More/Less Power and Larger or Smaller Scale), Taxes, Isms: Nationalism, Regionalism, Protectionism, Populism, Cartels, Multinational Corporations, Balance of Trade, Third Party Payments, Regulations (OSHA, etc.) Environmental Impact, U.S. Prestige Abroad. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC Food for thought: Labor Movements, Unemployment / Employment Cycles, Recession, Employment Patterns, Work Hours / Schedules, Fringe Benefits, Management Approaches, Accounting Policies, Productivity, Energy Costs, Balance of Payments, Inflation, Taxes, Rates of Real Growth, Distribution of Wealth, Capital Availability and Costs, Reliability of Forecasts, Raw Materials, Availability and Costs, Global versus National Economy, Market versus Planned Economies, Generations: Y, X, Boomers, Elderly, Urban vs. Rural Lifestyles, Affluent vs. Poor, Neighborhoods and Communities, Planned or Organic Growth. Got Knowledge?

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The Journal of 2020 Foresight
Wednesday, February 05, 2003  

Anticipating Threats, Favorable, and Unfavorable Opportunities

Chapter Two: The Ridge

By Steve Howard, CKO
The Knowledge Labs

Table of Contents
Chapter One: Basecamp
Chapter Two: The Ridge
Chapter Three: The Outpost
Chapter Four: The Tribal Territories

“The future doesn’t appear on earth all at once the way a stock offering might, or even roll around with the rising sun. Instead, it blossoms in discrete locations, spreads in ponderous waves, and fills the wind with spore-like memes that can settle and bloom without warning.”

Wil McCarthy, “Strange Blood,” Wired, August 2002

The Polls are open. We’re asking people like you to rate trends and predictions that have the greatest direct impact on your livelihood and future plans?

Today’s top three:

99 – Global, multinational corporations operate as stateless entities always searching for the most productive environment in which to operate. (Reich)

93 – Postponement of Retirement while more Midlife Career Changes (Cetron)

92 – People will change careers an average of every 10 years (Cetron)

Register your vote

Journal of 2020 Foresight: At the Ridge, the challenge is to anticipate external influences on the future we want to bring into being. Through the strategic exploration of 100 trends, we can scan the horizon to view the terrain ahead.

On our gondola ride, you said our challenge, before coming off the mountain, is to anticipate threats and opportunities. If we commit to following our passions, we have to figure out how to proceed into the great unknown while creating better opportunities for those individuals and teams who follow them.

Trailblazer: That’s right. Here we size-up the challenges, trials, and tribulations that lie waiting for us around the bend. We have to prepare for our expedition by letting go of our past. Members of previous expeditions described this as the process of laying down excess baggage to make room for new opportunities.

J2020F: Are you saying that it is at the Ridge where we anticipate contingencies with "what ifs" and "thens".?

TB: Exactly.

J2020F: So, by carefully inventorying our assets and liabilities we can pack just enough provisions to fuel the journey. If we don’t, then we overburden our energy, stamina, and persistence. So, the contingency plans help us become better prepared, right?

TB: You can’t take everything but the kitchen sink. At some point you need to commit to your call to adventure. Think of the process you go through when you pack your car for a two-week vacation. You only need enough to get you through the time period. Any more is wasted space.

J2020F: So, if you’ve stopped in to your local AAA, you can describe your destination and your departure point. Then, they’ll give you a map of their recommended routes.

TB: Right. The only difference is you are following someone else’s map of what you should see and do.

J2020F: If we chart our own trip, it helps to use the vantage point of the Ridge to site the landmarks. We can then sketch our own map to better navigate the terrain and to ensure progress towards our vision, right?.

TB: Sure. The idea is to anticipate both threats and opportunities. What will either hinder us or “fast forward” our progress.

J2020F: Give us an idea of what you mean.

TB: Threats are external conditions, people, and forces that appear to act against our intentions and aspirations. They hinder our progress along our journey and my force us to back track over past trails. They may be real or imagined and they typically emerge and dissolve over time.

J2020F: It’s safe to assume then, that threats remain threatening as long as we ignore their presence, have not anticipated how to handle them, or lack the will to confront them.

TB: And, threats, like opportunities, can be discovered during environmental scans of technology, political, economic, and social trends.

J2020F; Back to our 100 Trends.

TB: If threats place our progress on "pause" or "rewind", then opportunities "fast forward" our adventure through time.

J2020F: Like catching a wave about to crash on the shore?

TB: Close. An opportunity is a doorway to measurable success, formed by a set of external conditions controlled beyond our organizations or us. An opportunity opens for a definable time, and then closes, usually forever.

J2020F: Give me some examples.

TB: Opportunities represent themselves as changing markets, new product developments, emerging technologies, personal challenges, severe transitions, losses or gains, beginnings, endings and periods of access to people of power and leverage.

J2020F: How do we know if an opportunity knocks on our door?

TB: Entering a favorable opportunity draws us toward our goals. It illuminates and unfolds a better understanding of our visions, and it serves our highest purposes.

J2020F: As opposed to what?

TB: Unfavorable opportunities, on the other hand, diffuse our energy, confuse our purpose and drain our valuable strength.

J2020F: What you have been describing sounds like a grand puzzle. Somehow, we need to acknowledge that we all have blinders. We may know what we know. And we may know what we don’t know. Also, we’re pleasantly surprised realize that we don’t know what we know. But, the hard part is to accept that we don’t know what we don’t know.

TB: In our work at the Ridge, we call that influence understanding -- the ability to understand what influences your perceptions as you set out on your explorations. Influence understanding is the first of five skills we need to master.

J2020F: And the others?

TB: Divergent thinking -- the thinking skills necessary for discovering more than one right answer. Convergent thinking -- the thinking skills that allow the focused integration of the data and the prioritizing of choices.

J2020F: It would appear that knowing when to practice one over the other is a judgment call.

TB: That’s right.

J2020F: And the others?

TB: Mapping -- the capacity to draw pathways to show you how to get from the present to the future. And, imaging -- the ability to picture in words or drawings or models what you found in your explorations of the future.

J2020F: Earlier you named the process strategic exploration.

TB: That’s right. Everything hinges on the first, influence understanding.

J2020F: Why?

TB: Because if you don't understand how your perceptions of the future are influenced, all the other components are useless.

2020F: And the goal is to be able to better anticipate.

TB: Right. If you think about it, what your soon conclude is that some anticipation can be scientific, but the most important aspect of anticipation is artistic. And, just like the artist, practice and persistence will dramatically improve your abilities. Your improved ability will, in turn, increase your ability in dealing with the new worlds coming.

Got Knowledge?
Copyright ©2002 - 2006 Aarnaes Howard Associates. All rights reserved worldwide.

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