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Canaries in the Mind: Exploring How the Financial Crisis Impacts 21st Century Future-Mindfulness

Wilkinson, Angela and Ramírez, Rafael (2010) Canaries in the Mind: Exploring How the Financial Crisis Impacts 21st Century Future-Mindfulness. Journal of Futures Studies, 14 (3). pp. 45-60.


Futures practices have always sought to bridge longer term, context uncertainty and today's actions.
Despite the emergence of diverse foresight lineages, methods and tools, the differences between 'better proactive
foresight' and 'better reactive preparedness' remain unclear. This paper focuses on the 2007-2010 financial
crisis in order to clarify misconceptions and confusions concerning 'scenario planning'. We assess why the crisis
is not unique and propose how scenarios might be helpful in overcoming the difficulties of learning from crisis.
We focus on how scenarios were used in the run up to this crisis to clarify the nature, role and effectiveness
of scenario work. We highlight implications for scholarship and practice, including: overcoming simplistic distinctions
of scenarios as products or processes; and as outputs or inputs. We assess the power of scenarios as
frames and their role in re-framing strategic conversation; and contrast the misapplication of probability in
systemic risk analysis with the co-production of plausibility, between builders and users of scenarios. Finally,
we explore why the promises of deploying scenarios to address normal accidents and systemic risks are not yet
fully realised.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: scenario planning; financial crisis; sytematic risk analysis; normal accidents
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2010 08:45
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2019 15:14

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