Insights · October 27th, 2007

Sometimes people ask me “Why plan for the future?” They go on to say something like, “The world is changing so fast we don’t even know what the future will be.”

Well, we do know a lot. We’ve also had a fabulous example of planning that paid off in the California fires. Disaster planning is important, but I’m trying to make the point about all planning here, and just use an example we are all familiar with in this moment. I live in the Seattle area now, but I used to live in California, and when I did, I worked with cities. At least at that time, every city staff member in California carried an “emergency worker” card. They all drilled. They all had first aid training. They all know from day one that in an emergency, they were supposed to be willing to report to work. They almost all participated in planning. We drilled so much people sometimes complained that it interfered with their other work.

Of course, in California, certain things like fires and earthquakes are in the probable future (the set of things that are likely to happen). A firestorm like last week was surely worse than imagined, but I’d venture to guess that almost no other state could have evacuated that many people that well. None of the southern states did nearly as good in the hurricanes. I bet they did plan and drill, but I bet they didn’t do it nearly as much (neither do we in Washington State, although we’re getting better).

So with so many things in our probable future – for example, an aging society – shouldn’t we be paying more attention to planning? After all, the greying society is even more inevitable than wildfires in California. I heard Glen give a keynote speech this week, and he talked about how we aren’t building the kind of housing that healthy but aging baby boomers are going to need. Instead, we’re tearing that kind of housing down and building big houses with multiple floors and large yards (at least around here). In other words, we’re not planning for probable futures. In business, we should be planning now for fewer workers that want to stay on the job for less time. We should be designing plans to retain older workers.

Brenda Cooper

Category
Planning Futuring Strategy
NikolasBadminton_ChiefFuturist

Nikolas Badminton

Nikolas is the Chief Futurist of the Futurist Think Tank. He is world-renowned futurist speaker, a Fellow of The RSA, and has worked with over 300 of the world’s most impactful companies to establish strategic foresight capabilities, identify trends shaping our world, help anticipate unforeseen risks, and design equitable futures for all. In his new book – ‘Facing Our Futures’ – he challenges short-term thinking and provides executives and organizations with the foundations for futures design and the tools to ignite curiosity, create a framework for futures exploration, and shift their mindset from what is to WHAT IF…

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