Fixes That Fail: A Systems Thinking Archetype

As a student and practitioner of Foresight I see the mantra Burn It all Down through the lens of different Futures, i.e., what might be one of many different Futures. One never knows what the Future will be yet there is a relentless push by a subpopulation of society with both the will and the means to shape one possible Future – one without the ancient underlying foundations of Western society. What would come next is anyone’s guess as there is no alternative being proffered…simply burn it all down. If history is an indicator this Future will be bloody and not a good place for the weak. The old TV series Bad Lands comes to mind. Warlords and strong men. I prefer to avoid this Future yet no one in political leadership is working to truly oppose it.

Segue. In the current world of Foresight many practitioners talk about The Four Futures; however, others see a potential for even more options. The picture reflects an older version of the Future’s Cone, a tool that helps one visualize different potential Futures. The labels beneath each depicted Future help with understanding its intent.

I have encountered many in senior leadership positions who have told me they do not have time to consider the Future as today’s problems are consuming them, that they do not have the bandwidth to reflect on the Future. For these Leaders the Future will likely be just another day of firefighting as days become weeks, weeks months, and months years. For the truly strategic Leader the Future is a phenomenon that can be influenced and shaped by premeditated, very deliberate actions based on the use of different scenarios, word pictures supported by not only data but analysis and intent. It is these Leaders who could attain the Preposterous type of Future, one of radical innovation.

I recommend, actually urge, every senior leader to schedule time to reflect on the Future and different scenarios for your organization. Seek outside expertise to assist you if you do not have this skill set. If not CRE, seek another consulting entity. The key is to avoid letting “the Future” just happen. Be proactive as this new era unfolds.