What's Next? How to Plan for an Uncertain Future

May 11, 2021

Many people, organizations, and even governments are asking themselves “what’s next” after the extraordinary last year. The best advice is this…

Old ways won’t open new doors! The world has changed and it’s not going back to where it was. Why then do organizations think they can go back to the old ways of planning for the future?!? The same old SWOT analysis and strategic planning efforts will lead to the same results leaving organizations only having planned for one future that is an extension of the present when there are actually many possibilities and futures on the horizon. Only planning for one of them leaves organizations with a severe lack of resiliency. Resiliency is absolutely necessary to navigate the VUCA world we all live in today.

There is a better way to prepare for the future(s)! Building resiliency through strategic foresight is it! Strategic Foresight is an organizational, social, and personal practice that provides a framework to identify emerging trends and issues, and then uses these insights to map out possible futures to support better decision-making in the present. The future doesn't exist yet and it cannot be predicted, however, it is possible to anticipate the plausible, possible, and even the provocative future(s) in order to create resilient strategies no matter the outcome.

Most organization’s resources, including people, time, and money, are spent on immediate needs, problems, and goals. Quick attainable wins are typically top priority. This method may have worked ok in the past. The last year has demonstrated that organizations cannot only be focused on the short-term. To survive and thrive, long-term focus and strategy are necessary to be resilient in the increasingly VUCA environment. Quick wins will not uncover new opportunities and innovations that can create flexibility and strength. Adopting and implementing strategic foresight tools as a regular part of an organizations operating system is the solution.

Strategic foresight is not a one-time project like a traditional strategic plan. So, what is the difference between strategic planning and strategic foresight?

Timeframe covered:

  • Strategic Plans typically address 2-5 years into the future.

  • Strategic Foresight can be anywhere from 5-50 years into the future.

Timeframe to produce:

  • Strategic Planning can be done in as little as 4-8 hours for a basic strategic plan or 2-5 days when more assessment and details are included.

  • Strategic Foresight is completely customizable with tools to accomplish anything from a one-hour workshop that exposes people to different ways to think about the future all the way up to several months of discovery, horizon scanning, strategy creation, and implementation that develops new methods and strategies for organizational operations.


  • Strategic Planning produces a document usually no more than a few pages listing high level SMART goals with several bullet points detailing how each goal will be reached in a given timeframe.

  • Strategic Foresight is more than just a document of scenarios or strategies. The most desired outcome is a transformed organizational culture based on new perspectives and mindsets that allows futures thinking to be used to create better decisions today, building long-term resilience no matter the future.


Strategic Planning provides a framework for evaluating the status quo, determining specific goals, and exploring the metrics to achieve those goals.

  • Evaluation of the organization’s strengths and weaknesses based current circumstances

  • Articulation of goals for the next 2-5 years

  • Road map of how to achieve the organization’s goals

Strategic Foresight provides a suite of customizable tools used to bring new perspectives and transformative change. Using Strategic Foresight allows people and organizations to be able to:

  • Make better decisions today

  • Build resilience, adaptability, and opportunity by recognizing emerging patterns and building resilient strategies that can propel organizations beyond their competitors

  • Discover new perspectives creating an environment ripe for transformation and collaborative, purposeful operation

  • Develop a team of more futuristic thinkers with a mindset geared towards innovation, opportunity, and resilience

What's next? The possibilities are endless! Whatever it is, be open to new ways of thinking and doing. Have hope for better futures! Know that building resilience is possible for people, organizations, and even governments.

Keep moving forward. Find joy in the small things. Have a Joy Forward Strategy!

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