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How can association leaders have foresight into issues that are totally unexpected - like COVID-19 for example?

1 Answer, 0 Replies
Jeff De Cagna
March 23,
Jeff De Cagna  replied:

Thank you for the question. Three things to consider:

1. The COVID-19 pandemic is not a wholly unexpected or "black swan" event. In the work of foresight, what is happening now is considered a "wildcard," i.e., something we knew could happen, but we didn't know when. Indeed, there has been considerable discussion of the possibility of a devastating global pandemic over many years, including in a prescient Bill Gates TED talk from 2015.

2. Now that we're in the middle of a crisis, the best option is for chief staff executives and their teams to monitor and manage their associations' day-to-day actions, with the benefit of board perspective and support. Consistent with the duty of foresight, boards (with staff assistance) must focus their attention on learning with the future to understand, anticipate, and prepare for the "next normal" worlds that could plausibly occur in the ensuing 12-18-24-36 months. I use the term "next normal" here because I don't believe the environment that emerges in the immediate aftermath of the current crisis will last. We're going to be feeling this turbulence for some time as we move through different stages.

3. We are all feeling vulnerable right now. Vulnerability is a natural human reaction to risk and uncertainty. Association staff and voluntary decision-makers are not exempt, and it will be highly detrimental to meaningful collaboration if they choose to hide their vulnerability because they want to be "business-like" or "professional." Each of us needs to share what we're feeling so we can support one another, move beyond coping with the current situation, and concentrate on building our associations, stakeholders, and fields to thrive for the remainder of this decade.

Thank you again for your question. I hope you find my response helpful. You're welcome to reach out with any follow-up you may have.

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