In 2022 we know one thing for sure

It's far better to ask 'What if?' at the beginning of the year than it is to ask 'What now?' somewhere near the middle of it.

At this time of the year there are a lot of trend reports and 'predictions' being published - all postulating about the important developments that just might play out this year, 2022.

Those are all great - we love reading them too and get a lot of value from them.

Speculation is important and certainly has a place, but speculation is just that - it doesn't come with a guarantee.

There is however one thing that you can be very sure of in 2022; and that is that the things that will happen in the world this year will completely defy what you though previously possible.

You can be sure that the unimaginable will happen this year.

News headlines that would be a laugh if you saw them on an episode of The Simpsons will probably be on the front page of The New York Times.

Events, disasters, things people will say, things people will do this year are guaranteed to hugely surprise 99.9% of us all.

Some of these massive surprises will also have a big impact on our businesses and ourselves; perhaps the impact will be negative, maybe positive.

The role of imagination

Which is exactly why imagination is such a key part of effective strategic foresight, but a universally undervalued resource in almost all organisations.

It's only be strategically imagining what might happen that you can begin to formulate plans today for how you might respond should something extraordinary happen in the future.

It was said that 9/11 was a classic example of a catastrophic failure of imagination on the part of US state security intelligence operatives; as was the global pandemic and countless other unimaginable disruptions that have changed our lives in the last few decades.

Through a structured process of imagining the unimaginable there is however a mechanism to better design organisation's to be more flexible and resilient at a time where we know that we are going to be tripped up by surprises in the future.

It's not to say that the aim is to formulate a detailed plan for every imaginable future that you can possibly think up, but rather to develop the habit of forward thinking and welcoming the reality that the future is a place where resilience and proactive mental preparedness are of significant value.

It's far better to ask 'What if?' at the beginning of the year than it is to ask 'What now?' somewhere near the middle of it.