Tools and ideas for uncertain times

Post Webinar Release | Looking beyond the crisis: possible scenarios for post-pandemic development

Ion Ilasco shares some of the conclusions reached during a DevelopmentAid seminar whose guests, Alanna Markle (Strategic Foresight Analyst at the OECD) and Vicky Tongue (Head of Futures and Innovation at the International Civil Society Centre), shared their insights on strategic foresight and its role in pragmatic decision-making during a thematic webinar.


The Long Time Tools

This guide created by Bea Karol Burks & Ella Saltmarshe contains a series of interesting techniques to cultivate a culture of long-term thinking within organisations.


Managing complexity (and chaos) in times of crisis. A field guide for decision makers inspired by the Cynefin framework

This field guide written by Dave Snowden and Alessandro Rancati helps to navigate crises using the Cynefin framework as a compass. It proposes a four-stage approach through which we can: assess the type of crisis and initiate a response; adapt to the new pace and start building sensing networks to inform decisions; repurpose existing structures and working methods to generate radical innovation; transcend the crisis, formalise lessons learnt and increase resilience.


The Governance & Development Practice - Implementing adaptive management: A front-line effort Is there an emerging practice?

Graham Teskey and Lavinia Tyrrel’s ‘Implementing adaptive management: A front-line effort Is there an emerging practice?’ summarises the ‘state of the debate’ on adaptive management, three main weaknesses in current planning approaches, and proposes a new ‘PILLAR’ framework – for politically informed, locally led and adaptive responses –  with 15 actionable tools and easy steps for front-line implementing and donor staff to put adaptive management into practice at critical stages of the project cycle.


A Compass for the Crisis: Nonprofit Decision Making in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Social impact consultancy The Bridgespan Group also stresses the need to set clear values-based principles to steer decision-making through a crisis, as a ‘compass for the crisis’ with four categories: principles to protect the mission, principles to put people first, principles to elevate equity, and principles to focus on financial resilience. This sets the basis for quick, consistent decisions considering difficult trade-offs and honouring equity commitments.


How to use “trajectories from COVID-19” as a futures tool?

Rather than full-blown scenarios, many organisations found Forum for the Future’s excellent Four Trajectories from COVID-19 as a more flexible and useful framework for strategic thinking and organising emerging signals of change. Each trajectory – transform, compete and retreat, discipline and unsettled – is based on a different prevailing mindset, approach to change, understanding of power and sustainability, and strengths, ‘shadows’ and weaknesses. Forum for the Future has expanded this into a dedicated live research project to track signals of change for the trajectories as they unfold, the narratives becoming dominant, and the activities that are needed.


Learning in a Time of Crisis

This article by Hallie Preskilll and Joelle Cook highlights the need to learn about the effects, influences, and impact of how organisations are responding to the crisis—through data and experiences—as this will be critical if philanthropy is to be effective in the short-, intermediate-, and long-term.


After the Pandemic - A Toolkit for Transformation

The Toolkit for Transformation created by the Insititute for the Future is designed to help groups engage in action-oriented conversations about how to build the futures they want in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic. This guide lays out the basics for using the toolkit on a virtual meeting platform like Zoom, allowing conversations to be remote in the midst of the pandemic.



Leadership for Navigating Uncertainty

Given the scale of disruptive forces unleashed by the global pandemic, the social movements which inspired action to respond to racial justice and the economic shockwaves that have followed, the need for effective leadership has risen to the forefront in profound ways.

This paper written by Liz Weaver, Tamarack Institute and Bill Fulton and Jodi Hardin, and The Civic Canopy, attempts to draw upon the growing literature around leadership models and applies it to the current context based on what we are observing in communities, states, and provinces across Canada and the United States.


4 things to remember when going through tough times

  1. Use futures thinking to ensure that today's strategic decisions and innovations can withstand the volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) contexts of tomorrow.
  2. Include diverse perspectives and worldviews in the conversation.
  3. Recognise that everything is interconnected.
  4. Create more inclusive and equitable futures.

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  • Fast Future Keynote Theatre - Navigating Deep Disruption
  • How can we navigate through and beyond the pandemic when the world around us seems so uncertain and fragile?

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  • Scanning Webinar: ‘The Future is Ours’ - Save the Children’s new strategic foresight toolkit
  • As part of our Scanning the Horizon community, this introduced a practical new sector compendium of foresight tools.

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  • Uncertain Time Event
  • Launch of the Uncertain Times Tools, which draw on complexity thinking to create practical ways to navigate uncertainty.

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  • Strategic Decision-Making in a Whirly World
  • Listen to Miriam Niehaus and Vicky Tongue discuss our Scanning the Horizon Sector Guide