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What might the future look like?

No one including me, can predict the future. All we can do is try and take a balanced view using current knowledge. Even then any sort of projection into the future remains difficult; as the finance industry says, past performance is no guide to future performance. If you want to see the next business failure look at those who are fat and happy now.

In the future, not only is the devil in the detail, but things can get better or worse. Broad shapes can be discerned but history happens one day at a time and each action causes a reaction. The various serious challenges we face cannot simply be extrapolated into the future: that would be a case of giving dominance to a single factor.

One way of thinking about what might happen is to consider how optimistic/pessimistic we are and relate that to our view how change happens

  • We can suppose that people tend to be optimistic or pessimistic about the way things will work out in the future; they will be better or worse than they are now which might be related to what we think about people - if they are basically sensible and conscientious or feckless and lazy (Note: Theory X and Theory Y).
  • We can suppose that life will carry on in much the same way as it does/always has or we think something completely different and unexpected will happen – this may be linked to the nature of the threat and/or the change driver (Note: Fast and Radical Change)

By using these two axes we could create a 4x4 grid beloved of management consultants. Much better to treat these are continuums giving zones. This also allows for a set of outcomes around the crossover point – precisely where the future is contingent.

 

Lets deal with one of the big changes first. Even the contingent view may be overtaken by an extinction level event that is beyond our control and understanding when it happens. Apart from monitoring space for large objects (which we do) this is probably a case for fatalism.