Red and Yellow Strategies. Business psychology
Why is it important to play games?
And why do we look ten years ahead during foresight games?
They are humans
The most obvious (but not necessarily the most efficient) way to look into the industry's future is to ask experts. After all, they are the ones who are well informed, and, as such, they must see weak signals, or so-called "emerging issues," almost imperceptible signs of the future changes which can be detected today. Of course, we need many experts not to suffer from one expert's personal biases. So, it is safe to assume that ten or twenty professionals can help us create a plausible picture of tomorrow's world.

And even though it is always important to hear experts' opinions, futurists rarely use this approach. They prefer playing games, and for a good reason. Four major problems make this method less efficient than it might seem.

As I already mentioned before, we are inferior future thinkers, and this is the first obstacle we need to overcome. It is hard for us to think about the future because this skill was not evolutionary conditioned.

The second one is that we all (and experts, unfortunately, are not exceptions) tend to filter out all the signs, facts, and news that don't support our current worldview. Again, this is a matter of psychological safety. We want to believe that we "know" and "understand" the world around us and that we are able to interact with it in a way that helps us reach our objectives. This belief is a source of our self-esteem, and, vice versa, every fact indicating that our worldview isn't excellent or comprehensive undermines our self-confidence.
If a building becomes architecture, then it is art
The third one is a particular case of the second one. Every expert has a vision of the current state of an industry, its future, and the best strategy an organization should take to be successful. But unfortunately, experts are humans, and a cognitive distortion known as "confirmation bias" makes them see only facts that underpin their theory about the industry and ignore the ones which contradict it.

The fourth reason is about the idea that there are no experts in the future, there are only experts in the past. Therefore, most experts' forecasts are the facts from the past extrapolated to the future. They might be right sometime, but tomorrow is full of surprises, and it is rarely a linear continuation of the past and the present.

So, futurists prefer to organize foresight workshops in the form of games and look ten years ahead - not three or five. The game unleashes participants' imagination and helps overcome what I call "thinking bias." When someone is called an "expert," and we ask them to share their opinion, they start thinking too hard to justify their titles and try to look as smart as possible. But the future is unpredictable, and hard thinking doesn't help much in visualizing it.

And we look ten years ahead because if the game participants consider a shorter-term future scenario in which the world will be pretty much different from what it is now, it might be seen as a threat to their current strategy. And as a result, they may rule out this scenario as "unlikely" only to stay in their comfort zone, in the world to which their strategy is suitable.

If you would like to organise a foresight game for you organisation send me a message. If you like to watch stories more than read them, take a look at my YouTube channel. Don't forget to subscribe at the links below:
Follow Svyatoslav Biryulin on Twitter
Follow Svyatoslav Biryulin on LinkedIn
Follow Svyatoslav Biryulin on Facebook
Read Svyatoslav Biryulin at Medium