Where To From Here? Why Strategy in 2014 is so difficult.



The image here was used for a recent Meetup for Stockholm Futurists. It’s a graphic representation of futurist Jim Dator’s four alternative futures archetypes;

  • continuation (a.k.a. growth, business-as-usual, all-is-fine, keep-calm-and-carry-on),
  • collapse (systemic failure on a massive scale)
  • discipline (simplicity, sustainability, fundamentalism)
  • transformation (radical shift of some sort)

These archetypes seem to come back over and over again in civilizations of the past, according to Dator’s studies. And today – as before – these four trajectories are on the cards for us and our civilisation.

But which one will it be?

Being a futurist and thinking about these models all the time makes it very difficult to strategize and make plans. Sometimes I wish that continuation and the business-as-usual scenario was the only thing on my mind. Life would be so much easier then.

I think about the likelihood of these four. And this depends on who you listen to.

  • If you listen to futurist Richard Slaughter, Gaia scientist James Lovelock and Dark Mountain co-founder Paul Kingsnorth, we’re in for a collapse.
  • If you listen to mega-entrepreneur Peter Diamandis and friends we’re in for abundance and a never-before seen exponential technology extravaganza.
  • If you listen to the Transition movement, the Green political movement and other sensible environmental groups we can change behaviour towards disciplined, simplified lifestyles.
  • If you listen to Barbara Marx Hubbard, Joanna Macy and fellow evolutionaries, we are in for a shift of consciousness beyond our imagination.
  • If you listen to Ray Kurzweil and the singularitarians we are in for another type of incomprehensible shift where man and machine will merge (very soon).
  • If you listen to Michel Bauwens and the P2P people, we will collaborate globally on an unprecedented scale, in networked living arrangements, which transcend organisations, governance and financial models as we know them today.

I listen to all these people. Who do you listen to?

I guess that at the end of the day these four archetypal scenarios are all about hope. To give us hope and something to live for.

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