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
Monday, February 24, 2003  

Stories for Skipping Across the Valley of Despair

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

“Scenario writing works the same way. It takes years of practice, creating and understanding scenarios repeatedly. Thus, the most helpful exercise is to go back to old scenarios a year later. "Well, I missed the thing that was actually going to happen," you might say. "What did I not see?" Or, conversely, "What is it that led me to really see that surprise that nobody else thought about?" How do you judge whether a scenario was effective? The test is not whether you got the future right. That is fairly easy if you consider multiple scenarios. The real test is whether anyone changed his behavior because he saw the future differently. And, did he change his behavior in the right direction? Did he do the right thing?”

Peter Schwartz, “The Long View”

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 four:

60 – Self-employed people in the U.S. continue to grow at 4 times the rate of salaried workers. (Cetron)

59 – More mid-career professionals will opt for entrepreneurship from downsizing. (Cetron)

56 – Growth of self-managing specialists; input from colleagues, customers & headquarters. (Cetron)

52 – Advancements will be few; opportunities will be within narrow specialties

Register your vote

Journal of 2020 Foresight: You’ve described a multi-step process for strategic exploration of the future. You use script writing or story telling to flesh out four possible futures.

Trailblazer: That’s right. Every one of us filters out information based upon our experiences, thinking habits, and basic personalities. We have to. It’s how we’re “wired.” If we couldn’t selectively filter out all the noise, we wouldn’t be able to concentrate on tasks at hand.

J2020F: So, what’s the problem? Shouldn’t we just always “live in the moment?”

TB: Sure. Everyday we assimilate the ups and downs of daily living. If we didn’t live in the moment, then, we wouldn't find much happiness in the down periods. Accommodation though is another story.

J2020F: What do you mean?

TB: Major disruptions in our lives force us to change our normal habits. We know from “change experts,” that we respond in one of two ways.

J2020F: The so-called valley of despair, and?

TB: Right, the death and dying model of shock, bargaining, denial, anger, depression, and acceptance. Through selective filtering we miss the clues that suggest just how close we’ve come to the edge of the cliff.

The second is what we’re discussing here. A process of anticipation. The first drains all of your energy. The second feels more like an adventure.

J2020F: Change experts tell us the more sudden and the more unexpected the event that forces accommodation, the more devastating and the longer the recovery – before a life lesson can be learned.

TB: People who deny or who can’t see the accommodation warnings come to the cliff walking backwards.

J2020F: People who anticipate learn from their losses in life, and walk to the edge of the rim facing forward?

TB: Once you master the process, you realize many canyons will cross your path. You look for those signs and cross canyons before they become canyons.

J2020F: When you first notice signs of erosion?

TB: That’s right. Great rivers carve canyons. If you knew this little tributary eventually fed the Colorado River, you’d be able to cross it earlier. But, for most people seeing the tributary at the right time is extremely difficult. It’s the old “Johari’s Window” phenomenon.

J2020F: Let’s see if I get it right. A four-square window pane constructed by the combinations of knowing and not knowing, right?

TB: Right. We know what we know; we don’t know what we know; we know what we don’t know, and …

J2020F: We don’t know what we don’t know.

TB: No one is immune. We all have blind spots. The trick is to minimize the size of the “window pane” for our personal and collective blind spots.

J2020F: Hence, the four-box matrix of future stories.

TB: And, the inclusion of many people with diverse perspectives in the scenario writing and story telling. For, facing the unknown while not-knowing-what-we-don’t-know either takes a lot of courage …

J2020F: Or an absurd amount of foolishness.

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

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