What Is Visioning and How Has It Evolved?
Visioning is a concept is as old as our earliest writings.
Some of the earliest examples of written history, both religious and philosophical texts, speak of visioning – the ability to see the future. In those ancient times, if one didn’t possess visioning skills, they consulted with people who had them. So important was it for people to want to know what was coming next they conferred special status to those who could predict the next major human event. Visioning was both valuable and passive. That is, visionaries were “future seers” but not “future creators.”
Over time, humans developed a more pro-active relationship with visioning, and the experience morphed from future seers into future creators, or those who wished to shape the future. Modern history brought us philosophers, writers, scientists, artists, inventors, and leaders who aimed to create a future according to their idea of what it should look like.
Our ancient desire to want to see into the future, and later to shape our future, seems everlasting, almost as if it is hardwired into our DNA. So, it’s no surprise that visioning eventually made it into the world of commerce.
Given these two types of futurists, should business handle visioning like the ancients and be prophets and forecasters? Or should they seek to shape the future in the modern context as so many have done throughout the 21st century and be future creators?
Which approach is best?
The answer is: both are.
Without having the ability to see the future from the perspective of what will happen as a result of the collective action of others– like those who made predictions – you can’t understand the context of your vision. But, without being able to have a hand in forming the future with your desires and wishes and create what the future could look like, you are captive to circumstance.
If you vision a world without disease but don’t have the will or the capability to chart the path, you are as helpless as those who have the knowledge but don’t see where that knowledge will lead them.
So let’s look at both aspects of visioning. How do we predict and how do we produce?