Make Sense of Your (Unknown) Future

This is a continuation of our November 22nd post and it offers three questions about making sense of the signals you’ve seen.

Who sees a different future than you, and why?

Some of us look to the future and see opportunity. Others see doom and gloom. The issue is not about who is right and who is wrong. Rather, the issue is found in why we differ. We often need to have a conversation (a “real” debate) and dig into underlying assumptions and models of the future. Facts are facts — interpretations differ.

Who sees a different future than you and why?

Can you see multiple futures?

The clues that we sense on the edge of our mental radar screen can be interpreted in a number of ways because we interpret these clues in the context of our history, existing knowledge and personal desires. Some clues lead us to a probable or possible future. But there is another future we should consider.

President Kennedy looked at the clues about the Soviet and U.S. space capabilities in the early 1960s and stated a preferred future. And we started chasing that future all the way to the moon. Clues are not destiny. They are just clues.

What do you know about the future? What do you suspect? What do you want?

What don’t you know that you should?

Winston Churchill was concerned with, and responsible for, the future of England during the Second World War. He was constantly searching for clues about the future of the war and England’s survival. But as mentioned above, clues have to be incorporated with existing knowledge as you attempt to make sense of what you are seeing.

He was concerned that people would assume he had knowledge that he might not have. Consequently, he often started strategy meetings with a very basic question — “What don’t I know that I should.”

Make this personal. What don’t you know about your future that you should?


Once you’ve sensed the clues of the future and made sense of them you need to decide on a course of action. Otherwise nothing moves you toward the future with some sense of control. I’ll post another “episode” of the Sense-Response Cycle in a few days. Stay tuned.

Coming in 2021

We will launch a pilot course in January focused on helping managers and professionals be better prepared for their future. Like our recently competed pilot, The Pragmatic Strategist, this course will be a hybrid of reading, videos, group discussions (via Zoom) and workbook exercises.

Reader Interactions


  1. Richard Busby says

    This framework makes sense. I appreciate the pragmatic admission that clues (indicators of future change) have to be mixed with current knowledge to make informed decisions. This aligns with my own thinking framework: See to compare the broadskilling frame and also the Learning Architect Blog.

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