The Future Used To Add, Now It Multiplies

It’s time to look at the future through a new lens.

In recent years, huge companies such as Google and Facebook have adopted the practice of “Unconscious Bias Modeling,” taking their employees through workshops to uncover hidden biases and assumptions that are impacting innovation, diversity, creativity and decision making. For example, busting the bias that treats female workers as if they are less competent than their male counterparts, even though they have the same or greater level of education and skills.

Though these initiatives and efforts are admirable, their attempt to uncover unconscious biases suffer from the same fatal flaw as most of today’s organizational, governmental or social programs that are designed to overcome complex problems and develop manageable solutions: They start from a place of closed feedback loops, traditional mindsets and known categories in a world that has become increasingly volatile and ambiguous.

Just as trying to solve any complex problem from the landscape of that problem’s original matrix is akin to drinking poison in order to kill an infection, the path to transformative thinking is not achieved via traditional unconscious bias identification. Since the way that we think about and engage with the future informs our present actions (i.e. believing that “time” operates across a spectrum or it only moving in one direction from a fixed point will change the way you approach life), we really need what we call Unconscious Futures Modeling™ as a way to move past the closed feedback loops of developmental thinking. When we are mentally transported beyond the barriers of the present to take a look at our assumptions about the future, we can transition to a state of “emergence” or transformative thinking that transcends traditional boundaries. It is this way of thinking that allows us to really see how things can be different, how WE can be different, and how we can create pathways of positive change.

This different way of thinking, which can be expressed as Ontological Unpredictability, allows us to to embrace complexity in order to identify new mental and physical categories outside of our realm or perspective of “knowing” — a type of “dark matter exploration” or discovery of the “unknown unknowns.” Since we cannot predict the future, especially in environments of exponentially accelerating complexity, our leaders and organizations need to learn quantum thinking — thinking outside of our classical framework — in order to identify new categories of existence and possibility. A “Wicked Problems” framework is an Industrial Age mental model that approaches our world from a developmental lens, which is to say linearly or incrementally, and from the landlocked perspective of present problems and solutions. A Wicked Opportunities® framework approaches “world building” from a transformational perspective, leveraging our landscape of accelerating complexity for new idea creation, intentional evolutionary leapfrogging, and breakthrough discoveries that highlight our higher-order purpose over old order incremental iteration.

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So, look at the challenges that exist in today’s world and tell me, do you want to tackle biases and assumptions with the same mindsets that created them? Or, do you want to shift the perspective of your goals, your community, or your organization to a place of alternatives, possibilities and opportunities? If it’s the latter, then I would love for you to join me at The Futures School, the most unique, immersive, hands-on and networking-oriented training program for foresight, innovation and strategic design in the world.

Kedge is a global Foresight, Innovation & Strategic Design firm. www.kedgefutures.com TFS is a premiere foresight learning ecosystem. www.thefuturesschool.com

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