Historians will be examining 2020 for decades or centuries to come. It obviously has been a unique and historic trip around the sun for all of humanity, and the US in particular.
The US presidential election alone would have made it an eventful year. But there was also the George Floyd killing and the Black Lives Matter demonstrations; the West Coast wildfires; and the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
COVID-19 opened up whole new realms of what we in the foresight business call “uncertainty space.” Some of it appeared weirdly familiar, as we have written detailed pandemic scenarios in the past, including two for the US Coast Guard – Code Quebec (2003) and Treading Water (2010). But it’s one thing to practice foresight, and quite another to actually find ourselves in some respects living in our own scenario narratives. We’re reminded of all the human losses this year, which are altogether too real.
FSG, like many of you, has adapted to the changed circumstance of the COVID world. A trial multi-day scenario workshop on Zoom for a medical client was successful beyond all our expectations. Since it will be some time before business travel is routine again, it’s reassuring to know that virtuality is not an insurmountable obstacle to robust scenario planning. Hopefully, in fact, the Zoom option will make rigorous scenario planning accessible to more organizations.
The turbulence all around us was a powerful motivation to keep FSG’s blog commentary current. Patrick Marren headed up two topical scenario efforts, one early in 2020 focused on the presidential election and the economy, and a second one exploring the intersection of the presidential election and COVID impacts. In his provocative blogs, Kevin McDermott explored COVID implications related to privacy, decision-making and the criticality of foresight and resilience in a world that defies prediction.
We welcomed Joe DuFresne as an FSG principal this this year. Joe recently retired from the US Coast Guard after 25 years. His last assignment was as the Captain of the Port and Sector Commander for the eastern Great Lakes out of Buffalo, NY. He first worked with FSG in the Coast Guard where he led Project Evergreen, which FSG directed between 1998 and 2013. Joe’s strategic foresight skills and operational experience are a rich add to FSG’s toolkit. Earlier this year, Joe was a featured guest on retired Navy Seal and leadership trainer Mark Divine’s podcast Unbeatable Mind.
FSG received a nice bit of publicity this year. A summer 2020 Harvard Business Review feature on managing uncertainty highlighted our scenario planning work with the Coast Guard before and after the terror attacks of 9/11. Author Peter Scoblic interviewed both FSG and Coast Guard principals in the article titled “Learning from the Future.” It’s a great read, if we say so ourselves, with important foresight lessons for where we find ourselves at the close of 2020.
Like you, we look forward to the new year, which will feature a new administration in Washington, multiple COVID vaccines, and the chance to be physically close once again to family, friends and colleagues.
May the year 2021 – and all our futures – be brighter. Happy Holidays.