The covid-19 pandemic shocked the world and generated high levels of economic, political, and social uncertainty. And for many people, the virus compounded the growing sense of uncertainty they already felt in their lives as a result of automation, geopolitical tensions, and widening inequalities.
With the many sudden changes that covid-19 has brought, planning for the future can feel impossible. Even short-term decisions—What will we do this weekend? Should I send my kids to school?—now require us to process a broad set of data and considerations. Trying to envision life months or a couple of years down the road may seem futile or even foolish.
When faced with high degrees of uncertainty, we tend to worry about all that might happen, and often do so in an unstructured manner. This kind of worry can spur knee-jerk reactions and inhibit sound decision-making, which is especially problematic in the middle of a global crisis when so much is at stake.
Strategic foresight offers an alternative to unproductive worry. It’s a way of thinking that uses alternative futures to guide the decisions we make today. This tool can help us better anticipate possible circumstances and—importantly—adapt when those circumstances threaten our ability to achieve our goals.
Strategic foresight can be a powerful tool to help you understand and evaluate your options even when the future seems very unclear. I use this practice every day in my work, and I believe it can also help people navigate their personal and professional lives during the pandemic.