Thinking about the future can be surprisingly difficult.
As a professional futurist a lot of the work that I do is to help teams and organisations think and imagine more clearly about what it is that they want in the future.
Often what you find when you do this exercise with a group of people is that some people tend to easily slip back into the present and dwell on all of the current reasons as to why one particular future isn't possible because of X and Y etc etc.
Or you might find it tricky for everyone to reach agreement on what the future might look like or should look like for the organisation. Sometimes loud, important, opinionated voices overpower the group and you end up with a future vision that makes sense to one person, but doesn't resonate with anyone else.
So helping groups imagine the future is not easy.
Postcards from the future
One way to make the process more manageable is to do a group exercise called Postcards from the Future.
In this exercise you divide the larger group up into smaller teams and you allow each team to literally design and write a postcard (or a letter if you have more time) from the future (usually 10 years into the future...say 2031) back to the rest of the people who are still sitting back in the present time (April 2021).
The idea is to describe what the future company looks like; what does it now sell, how is it operationally structured, what markets does it target, how does it make a valuable contribution to the world?
The power of Postcards from the Future is that you are able to suspend the present moment and free the mind to explore the future without restriction.
Outdoor mega-brand, Patagonia, have channeled this creative futures thinking exercise in a letter from the future, which the company has shared widely with their audiences.
Patagonia's brand is very much focused on addressing issues of climate change and environmental destruction, which is why much of their letter from the future addresses these concerns.
Postcards / letters from the future can be a very useful exercise to creatively explore what the future might hold for an organisation should certain key decisions be made, or not made, in the present.
Clarify your strategic intent
Over the years, Jonathan Cherry has consulted to numerous organisations helping them clearly define their strategic intent and strategy map for accelerated business growth and resilience in uncertain times.
If you need a facilitator to take you through this process for your organisation, please get in touch here to chat with Jon.
Follow this card to read the full Patagonia letter.