New FC: Futures Thinking: Asking the Question
My latest Fast Company essay is up, and with it I return to the "Futures Thinking" series. This one, "Asking the Question," looks at how to craft a question for a foresight exercise that's most likely to generate useful results.
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.
As always, let me know what you think.