It goes without saying that times of crisis are times of change. They can also be times when our outlook shrinks to the near term as we adjust to new conditions and have to invest time in new ways of living and working.
However, for everyone, but especially those in a leadership role, it is important to think about the future and to consider what changes will take place. We need to be prepared to navigate and influence directions and decisions going forward.
Thinking forward is hard right now – not through lack of possibility but because so much is possible. There is a plethora of opinion around how this crisis will play out. Right now this is because the future branches away in front of us in many diverging directions.
This is challenging for two reasons. Firstly, these opinions are not from the perspective of you or your context. They may give you ideas about what the future holds, but you still need to construct your own future. Secondly we have to make decisions about what future to embrace. To do this we need to use possible futures to help us imagine what we would do and what future we want to try to create.
This article provides a framework for imagining possible futures that we can use to provide a longer term perspective. It outlines how we can inform future directions and decisions.
Framework: Layers of change
For a frame we draw on some inspiring work from Stewart Brand, founder of the Long Now Foundation. In these compressed timescales it is valuable to draw on someone whose focus is on the long-term. Brand developed the concept of Pace Layers – layers of change that are distinct but separate. These different layers move at different speeds – fast fashion to glacially slow nature. Fast changing fashion, art and technology can be understood as a layer of experimentation that enables us to test and learn. This layer then influences lower layers such as infrastructure, governance and culture. The layering creates a system that is able to respond to and absorb shocks by both adapting to change and rejecting failed experiments. Brand argues that this is a critical quality of complex systems and helps to prevent change from being catastrophic.
Continues in source Designing futures during a crisis – Liveworkstudio