According to Dr. Philip Zimbardo (2010), everyone operates from one of six time orientations: past positive (nostalgic), past negative (regretful), present hedonistic (pleasure vs. pain), present fatalistic (fated), future life-goal (better existence), and future transcendental (life after death). Individual orientations with time dictates if they see the future with apprehension, excitement, or indifference. From an organizational standpoint, this can be a challenging obstacle to overcome in strategy development. For this reason, foresight workshops are valuable exercises for teams to experience.
Strategic foresight equips teams with the ability to make wise decisions about the future (Cornish, 2005) and move beyond their individual time orientations in order to operate as a team. This was my recent experience with a team of church leaders in a foresight workshop designed to ask the question, how will current trends and future possibilities effect the way they approach ministry. For this particular workshop we used a trend map of trends and technology through 2050 (Watson, 2009). The initial response of many in the room was a sense of being overwhelmed with the trend map provided with his various colors, time zones, and volume of information provided, and this was before they began to read the information and some of the probable future realities. As they perused the possibilities of the future some created excitement such as facial recognition, video wallpaper, and robotic insects for crop pollination. Other realities created anxiety such as Gen X living longer than their children, fully immersive gaming, and ‘printed’ organs.
What the workshop provided the team was an opportunity to share their thoughts on each of the trends they felt impacted ministry, share their anxieties and excitements, often determined by their time orientation, and talk through possible approaches to navigate the changes together to be more effective.
Cornish, E. (2005). Futuring: the exploration of the future (1. paperback printing). Bethesda, Md: World Future Society.
Watson, R. (2009). Trends and Technology Timeline 2010+. NowandNext.
Zimbardo, P. (2010). The Secret Powers of Time. RSA ANIMATE. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3oIiH7BLmg