What Went Wrong? A Question For Futures Insight

In five years, what did we get wrong?

This simple question can be a powerful vehicle for understanding the way in which things in the future might — and might not — unfold. Foresight is a complicated process as we are asking to see into a horizon that hasn’t yet taken place. Rather than predict the future, strategic foresight is about anticipating possible futures.

What this means is that it is possible — indeed, quite likely — that what we think will happen won’t come to pass as we thought. However, we might also foresee certain things that allow us to prepare. For example, we might be correct to see the growing trend toward working remotely while being incorrect about the reasons that drive it and the timing (e.g., pandemic).

All of these are based on assumptions about what we anticipate happening.

Asking the question about “what didn’t go right” or “what did we miss?” begins the process of allowing us to ask more detailed questions about our assumptions. It can allow us to identify where the areas of friction might be, the critical and less critical uncertainties about our models of the world lie, and what might have been missed as we envisioned the connection between now and the future.

Asking what we might achieve is useful. Asking what might go wrong is prudent. Ask them both.

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