Meanderings

Here is an extended quote: Remember, the goal of structured futures thinking is to come up with a picture of possible futures that will help to inform strategic decisions. The answers you’ll get from a futures exercise are rarely cut-and-dried, but ideally will help you make your decision more thoughtfully. Futures thinking isn’t a Magic 8-Ball, a process where all you need to ask is “Should we do X?” (and getting “Ask Again Later” as a result is neither useful nor surprising). It’s a subtle point, but I tend to find it useful to talk about strategic questions in terms of dilemmas, not problems. Problem implies solution—a fix that resolves the question. Dilemmas are more difficult, typically situations where there are no clearly preferable outcomes (or where each likely outcome carries with it some difficult contingent elements). Futures thinking is less useful when trying to come up with a clear single answer to a particular problem, but can be extremely helpful when trying to determine the best response to a dilemma. The difference is that the “best response” may vary depending upon still-unresolved circumstances; futures thinking helps to illuminate possible trigger points for making a decision. One important point about the difference between problems and dilemmas: with dilemmas, you will generally have a sense of the different possible responses, and have to make an intelligent choice between them. With problems, the solution is almost by definition hidden, and must be discovered. Futures thinking is much more robust when dealing with dilemmas.