Chapter 11. Evo Devo Foresight: Unpredictable and Predictable Futures

2. Developmental Factors

Let’s turn now to the developmental side of the foresight generation process, and to those folks who like to anticipate, protect, estimate, quantitate, forecast, and predict. If you “start with certainty” in your foresight process, by beginning with these folks and their favorite factors, you’ll quickly get a set of ideas for where the future may go. But you better not stop there.

People who think in terms of developmental factors can easily ignore evolutionary approaches. They prefer constraint and convergence over possibility and divergence, so their ideas may be simplistic and biased, missing most of the possibility space. This happened in the 1950s era of Technocratic Foresight in the US (see Chapter 1), when many of our leaders and engineers entirely underestimated the evolutionary complexities of social systems, and the unintended consequences of their top-down policies. It happens in any organization whenever we leave strategy and policy to just the developmentalists.

Let’s not forget that developmentalists are not only incomplete, they can easily be wrong. Today we have little hard data for developmental processes in most systems, and we don’t know which models work best in which contexts. If you suspect a developmental process exists, and is relevant to your client’s future, you should begin by seeking out relevant developmental factors, arranging them in intuitive ways, and testing them against your experience. If development exists, your efforts will steadily become more predictive over time. Let’s look at some of these factors now.

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