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Foresight illustrated: The mother of all futures diagrams

Cone of uncertainty Every time I have used versions of the diagram shown here with groups in workshops, conversations, and consulting visits, it has always helped to clarify and solidify people's thinking. The other day, in a typical business workshop setting, I introduced it, and as I drew the diagram on a flipchart, I heard one of the folks blurt out: "Now we're talkin'!" What the diagram does is explain, at once, the notion of alternative futures-that the future is not certain or predictable, and that there is a range of possible futures; the idea that nearer-term outcomes are more certain, and further out, less certain; that while some organizations might want to bet on a particular track of change, they need to know they are doing just that, and that a range of futures is possible; and what a group of scenarios is, and that the most likely future will include parts of each scenario. Lloyd Walker, of Precurve, brings a thoughtful and artistic eye to this question as applied to scenarios and has built a similar approach with what he calls the "Field of Probability". I think of the diagram as "the mother of all diagrams" in my work. Give it a try.

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