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You can’t be what you can’t see

"If you have the words, there's always a chance that you'll find the way."
–Seamus Heaney, Irish poet and playwright

"You can't be what you can't see," attributed to Marian Wright Edelman, American civil rights activist, and others.

"To give a thing a name, a label, a handle; to rescue it from anonymity, to pluck it out of the Place of Namelessness, in short to identify it–well, that's a way of bringing the said thing into being" –Iff, the Water Genie, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Salman Rushdie

Seamus Heaney, Marian Wright Edelman, and Salman Rushdie's Water Genie, quoted above, remind us that until people have a name for something, understand the change it represents, and recognize it as desireable, they have trouble accepting it and taking steps to get there.

To be able to describe not just changes, but outcomes, is essential to progress. Too often, the visionaries among us understand, but the stakeholders we face do not, they can't see it, and don't have the words with which to talk about it.

In foresight, we use scenarios to describe potential futures and often to identify desired outcomes. The more specific and clear we can be about the potential future, the better we are able to communicate with others about it, and identify paths forward. The first step is to articulate the future: you can't be what you can't see.

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