Strategic Futurists; Value Systems Specialists


How do you handled 'the unsettled' transitions?

Saturday 12 July 2014

At almost every stage in a shift in the way societies and organisations operate, there comes a period of extreme 'unsettled-ness'. This period may show itself in the form of the doldrums (where things seem unusually calm but nothing seems to be happening) or in busyness (where there's lots of activity but nothing seems to be happening). In many cases there will be a call for a re-think of direction, of purpose and of activity. So when should you maintain the course, and when should you take a step back?

The answer to both states of being lies in the starting approach you utilised before commiting to your current source of action. For organisations and for societies, if there has been sufficient and deeply considered thinking about what the future might hold (possibilities) and what you want to achieve (preferabilities) then often the answer is to 'stay the course'.

For leaders, there is often a need to inform the masses. Let them know what is happening, that the doldrums or the wheels spinning is not unexpected, but that a threshold is approaching beyond which, the 'new normal' will emerge and embed itself.

But what if you did not undertake the well considered assessment of the preferred future and the likely issues you will face? If you're in the doldrums, the action is clear - undertake a challenging assessment of what is possible, what is plausible and what is preferrable and use that assessment to guide you actions. However if you have not undertaken that assessment and yet have a very busy organisation or society where lots of action is present but you are 'getting no where' then danger is all around you. Understand this - if you are busy but do NOT know where you are going, about the only thing you can guarantee is happening (in your society or organisation) is that valuable resources are being wasted on a directionless business.

And that can only lead to disaster. As Map makers used to mark on uncharted areas: 'there be dragons!' If you are leading a society or an organisation that lacks direction it is iuncumbent upon you to discover a direction of value and importance. Without one you'll wither and die.

As an example, right now it seems to me that the transition from coal to renewables is underway. But the wobbles and worries are all around us. Simply put (and to paraphrase someone else's thoughts) 'the old ways are dying but the new ways aren't fully here yet'. Which sees many calls for 'go back to what we've always done' offset by 'the future is this way!' About the only thing that is clear to me is this:The old ways won't get us to where we want to go.

But that doesn't mean the new ways are an easy straightline path. Far from it. In the energy sector, both in charted and uncharted maps, 'there be dragons'  


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