When facing a big change or crisis, especially an unanticipated one, we may freeze and focus on short-term details. How will we get through today’s challenge? Of course we must handle truly urgent matters.
A Higher, Broader, Longer Perspective
At the same time, try to step up to view things from a higher, larger, longer perspective. That is, look for higher-level significance, broader-scope trends, longer-term implications and possible further changes.
Dominos and Cascades
Change begets change.
Sometimes it occurs as in a game of dominoes. One event directly spurs another in a fairly predictable, and often fast-moving, sequence.
In other cases, there’s more of a cascade of changes as several factors move together to create a bigger change. You might notice these patterns of change occurring in social trends, political movements, technological developments, and economic shifts.
Constant Change, Long-Term Progress
As Greek philosopher Heraclitus noted around 500 B.C., “Nothing is permanent except change.” Even when things appear to be stagnant, change in some form continues. It may come about as a slow build, as when gradual improvements are built on top of one another. Conversely, change may involve gradual removal of elements, unravelling, or simplification over time. Whether it’s obvious or hidden, occurring in a straight or a zigzag line, there is continuous movement. In the near-term we may experience setbacks, detours, and challenges, but, as Steven Pinker illustrates in his 2018 book, Enlightenment Now, throughout human history, the long-term trend has been one of progress in every single measure of human well-being.
Consequences, Cascades, Creation
The change you are experiencing right now will not be the last, so look beyond this immediate one:
- What might the consequences of this change or crisis be in the longer-term?
- What else might happen next as a result?
- What opportunities might it create?
Planning for Uncertainty
When the future is uncertain, as it almost always is, at least to some degree, Scenario Planning can be a useful tool. With Scenario Planning, you plan for a number of ways things could go. Under Scenario A, we’ll do Plan A; under Scenario B, we’ll go to Plan B; if Scenario C occurs, we’ll move to Plan C. You choose the best plan for the current scenario, but are ready to adapt or shift to another plan as circumstances unfold.
Scenario Planning Plus
I’ve created a tool that takes this a step further to consider possible cascades of changes: Scenario Planning Plus.
I hope these ideas and this tool will help you create your best future!
©New Century Leadership LLC 2020.