Genetics, Pandemics and Heroics: A Fortress Scenario 2035
Over the past several weeks, we at Kedge have been asked (as I’m sure that every other foresight firm has been asked), have we ever considered a future in which a pandemic could drastically alter life as we know it? As you will see shortly, we have — and it wasn’t even that long ago when we last mapped such a possibility.
Whenever we undertake a scenario project for any client, we always try to follow several major rules:
- Always write a suite of scenarios (ex. Abundance, Market and Fortress), and never depict the future in a singular fashion.
- Never write the suite of scenarios in isolation from the client or stakeholders. Those who are using the scenarios for strategy, innovation, organizational development or social change must have ownership in their creation.
- Scenario creation is “world building.” The term scenario means many different things to different people, but in futures thinking and foresight work, it should mean the creation of well-research, robust, rigorous and imaginative worlds in which users can “walk around in” and practice future-oriented ethnography to develop present-day actions. Therefore, a foresight-produced scenario cannot be just a few sentences that describe a generalized potential outcome such as “China will dominate the field of Artificial Intelligence” or “More people will practice everyday activities such as work or financial dealings within the digital arena.” Scenarios — besides having the accompanying information such as background research, development processes and impacts/outcomes — must include human-centric narratives that help us to suspend disbelief and elicit an emotional reaction that impacts the reader to see realize opportunities and threats.
In this time of a global pandemic — and with a ton of talk about this present-crisis being a “black swan” that no one saw coming — I thought that many of you would enjoy reading one of the scenarios that we wrote back in 2018. This particular scenario was part of a suite of scenarios for a client in the UAE. That scenario suite covered everything from the future of education and business, to government and economics, and was quite extensive. Below you will find only the world-building narrative that was created for the Fortress scenario, a landscape of breakdown and threat. What might be the after effects of a global pandemic that was coupled with the dual threat of a man-made biohazard and a complete climate collapse?
(Quick scenario tip: When reading a scenario narrative, it’s important to remember that the events are meant to reflect multiple triggers and concepts. In other words, a pandemic could represent a number of natural disasters that would demonstrate the same threat or impact — or in a more positive scenario, an idea could point to an area of unseen opportunity.)