The work that I specialize in is figuring out viable solutions to complex, messy and challenging projects. It is intense and it is consuming. There are also numerous pitfalls to doing it well. You try to create clarity around something that is inherently unclear. You also need to avoid making it too simple, where simple answers become tempting and potentially create further challenges. Doing this work is as much art as it is science.
Scenarios are a way to challenge; they call into question viewpoints, they confront ideologies and they prompt broader perspectives. Within that expansive perspective, it is hoped that new opportunities and necessary actions emerge. The scenarios that I presented last week were very much intended to do just that. They reinforce that while we are all in the same storm, we are not in the same boat. The boat that we find ourselves in will define—or curtail—our options. Mobilization, then, is in part making sure that the boat we find ourselves in is sufficiently sturdy, appropriately equipped and up to the task of the voyage that we find ourselves on.
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.
Liminality—the idea of in-between spaces as a source of growth and transformation—is a simple construct that’s difficult to live through. The art of storytelling is a complex, rich mine of insight with a similarly simple construct beneath it. The traditional of three-act narrative owes a lot to liminality, because it borrows a great deal from how to navigate the places in-between. Story is what shows us how to live, to imagine and to consider what’s possible. The same structure is what allows us to grow and succeed.