Referring to the last post there are two primary questions that must be asked in order to think strategically.
- What kind of world do we want in the future?
- What kind of world can we have in the future?
These two questions have their analog in various kinds of systems. On the individual level we might ask: "What kind of person do I want to be, and what kind of person can I be?" For example, someone could want to be a scientist and believe that they are intelligent enough to go after the necessary education. Such a strategic thought would give rise to the tactical planning for how to get that education.
An organization's leaders ask: "What kind of organization do we want to be, and what kind of organization can we be?" Enterprises look for organizational structures and cultures that support production of the kinds of products/services they desire to sell, but they also have to understand what customers want. While an individual relies on learning and behavior, organizations are able to morph themselves (at least gradually) to meet their tactical goals.
A country's leaders might ask these questions, but more often, these days, they really don't. At the birth of the US the founders did contemplate the nature of the nation and how it might be into the then future. In my view the political discourse today has devolved into a cess pool.
Essentially the first question asks about requirements. How do we want to live? What should our environment be like to sustain our psyches? How will we organize work to provide for our comfort? It is a matter of imagination and motivation. What is desireable?
The second question asks about the constraints that dictate what is feasible and what isn't. How many people can the earth sustain? How much energy can we extract from our environment without damaging the ecosystems we rely on to sustain life? This is a matter of physical reality. We need the knowledge of science to provide the answers.
As we attempt to answer these questions we need to find balance between our wants and what is actually possible. We might want to build 100-story skyscrapers in San Francisco, but would that be wise? Could such a structure survive a 9.0 Richter earthquake? On the other hand, we might want to send humans to explore Mars. What would we have to give up to divert precious resources to that end?
It isn't yet clear to everyone that we have overreached in many areas of life, but it is becoming increasingly clear to most that something is going wrong. We, as a species, never really asked these strategic questions in any meaningful way. We have only recently really begun to understand what it means to be a species, an integral part of nature, and to recognize how our own evolution has brought us to this juncture. And now we are beginning to realize the consequences of that failure. Perhaps it is too late to start now. I prefer to think that it isn't. But if we do now ask, the answers to the questions about what kind of world we
Nevertheless, that is no reason to not start asking. What kind of world do we want? What kind of world can we have?