We have all been wrestling with how the pandemic ends. There is so much that we don’t know. There are so many uncertainties and complexities. In the past few articles, I’ve explored various ways that scenarios can help us make sense of the world around us. In this article, I show rather than tell. Four scenarios of possible futures and potential outcomes of how re-entry unfolds.
The future is a challenging place to contemplate. There are many factors that we can’t control, and many circumstances that we can’t influence. Making meaningful choices about an uncertain future often feels overwhelming, impossible and ultimately futile. The articles of the last few weeks have both explicitly and implicitly explored the role of scenarios in considering possible futures. They can be invaluable tools to manage uncertainty and identify meaningful future choices.
In our current circumstances, there are questions of where the pandemic leads for us as individuals. There are consequences and implications for organizations. But the biggest impacts—and the greatest choices—are those we face as whole societies. There are many tensions, and significant challenges ahead of us. It would be easy to look to others to make those choices on our behalf. That would be a mistake.
As we respond to the chaos around us, it can be tempting to look forward to when we are past this and “things are normal again.” Our current environment feels overwhelming and uncertain. The most appealing thing is to hide under a blanket. The most strategically important thing might be to take action. The key challenge lies in defining the action to take, and figuring out how best to coordinate and lead in a time where nothing feels certain.
The future is a big, scary and uncertain place. It’s difficult to think about how things may play out. It’s even more difficult at times to define how we want things to play out. There are few scarier questions to be asked than, “Where do you want to be in five years?” Finding an answer to that is complicated and elusive. It’s also an unfair question, and one that begins at the wrong starting place.
One of the fundamental questions everyone wants answered is, “When will this all end?” There aren’t any clear pathways forward, nor are there any hard answers about how or when the current pandemic will conclude. There are maybes and possibilities. This week’s article starts a multi-part series about how things might play out. It starts with exploring, in a bit more detail, how we think about the future.