Venn in action: past, present, future

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I like doing scenario planning work. It is built on an awareness of the past (shocks, surprises, events) and a view to future times (trends, drivers, uncertainties). It is also, maybe surprisingly to some, about seeing the world today as it is: it is fundamentally about the present (understanding it, acting in it).

I like this quote attributed to Lao Tzu: “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

Being a visual person, I sometimes see the past and future as a yin yang symbol– with the present as where the two meet. But maybe a venn diagram with two circles, where the past and present overlap – maybe the overlap is bigger than we sometimes imagine. Or a three circle venn like this one – enjoy.

The key in scenario work, and maybe our individual life, is to find time and ways to

1) Reflect and learn the lessons of history

2) Scan from many points of view to spot and learn about the future(s) – plural as they are unknowable

3) Calmly embrace and live the uncertainty in the present. (fyi -this is a key part of our work on personal and organisational resilience)

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