Wouldn’t it be nice to know what is going to happen? You could make plans with so much more confidence and feeling of certainty. You’d feel like you were facing the known rather than the unknown. You could move along the scale, away from fear and trepidation, towards excitement and curiosity, perhaps even arriving at comfort and security.
But the future, it is said, is difficult to predict. Notoriously so, in fact, and getting more and more difficult with each shocking change in economics, politics and climate.
It is especially difficult for solution-focused practitioners to predict the future, as we reject simplistic notions of cause and effect when dealing with complex situations, which clearly includes anything in which humans are involved. We don’t indulge in speculation that because someone did a particular thing in our office, some corresponding effect is bound to follow. Every case is different and we take the view that the future emerges from the incalculably dense mix of patterns and systems that make up the ever-changing world.
But that does not mean we have nothing to say about the future or that we are just stuck with how things are. There’s something hugely powerful, generative and enabling about imagining the future, especially using our present gifts of imagination to create a vision of the future that we would wish to experience. Invited to ‘Suppose…’ that your problems have vanished (overnight) or to ‘Suppose…’ that the team is functioning exceptionally well, we can set to work.
This is the ‘Future Perfect’, an opportunity to construct on our own or with others a detailed portrait of a preferred future, the more detailed the better. Our Future Perfect then gives us an inspiring scenario to motivate us. It gives us points of reference which we can recognise whenever they occur. Indeed, some elements may already be in place or have happened at times before – which means we can build seamlessly upon them or recreate them from knowledge we already have. And it gives us a focus on what we’d like to have happen, taking our attention towards the resources we’ll be needing to make progress, and away from the failings, shortfalls and frustrations of the past.
If you are interesting in making a better future happen with your organisation or team, contact us.