We, humans, are products of evolution. We are hardwired to do only things helping us survive as a species. And future thinking was not on that list because it was not necessary. People were born, lived, and died in the same scenery, and the skill of looking into the future more than six months ahead was useless. Hence, it makes strategic thinking exceptionally hard. It requires a conscious cognitive effort. Scientists call this "Present Bias." For example, if you choose between eating a piece of sweet cake and jogging, and it's hard to make the right choice, you are under pressure from the "present bias". Your contradictional feelings result from the conflict between getting immediate pleasure (by eating the cake) and suffering from negative consequences somewhere in the future. But this is not you who will be in pain tomorrow – your "future self" will, that is, a barely familiar stranger. That's why it's so difficult for us, humans, to resist some temptations. Some other phenomena, such as bad habits or procrastination, can also be explained by "present bias" because we tend to underestimate the negative consequence of what we are doing right now.
Furthermore, future thinking can be scary. The future is unknown, but evolution taught us to be afraid of uncertainty. Too afraid, I would say, observing the groups in my forecast workshops. When we discuss possible future scenarios, they are always scary and gloomy. Humankind will destroy the planet and itself. People will be enslaved by robots or AI. Democracy will be replaced by dictatorship, and so on. It is easier for us to believe in dismal scenarios than in optimistic ones.
It isn't comfortable for us to visualize the world of tomorrow where our skills and knowledge are redundant or obsolete. In the foresight workshops, I often observe how the participants try to avoid discussions on some future scenarios due to possible personal risks for them. They try to convince themselves and others that those versions of the future are "unrealistic" on the sole ground that they look too harsh for them. Similarly, the strategic workshop attendees sometimes try to hide behind a cozy illusion of safety, asserting that their particular market won't change significantly in the future. They proclaim that it is not ready for digitalization and its market niche is not interesting for big enterprises. It is an example of blissful mental myopia.
Thinking about the future (and, consequently, about strategy) requires deliberate cognitive effort. We need to overcome our natural inability to look into the future. The good news is that this is a learnable skill. Would it be interesting for you? Find out more here