Hindsight V Foresight? That is the Question

Hindsight V Foresight? That is the Question

Most of us will associate the name, Pandora with the jewellery retailer. Maybe some of us will know the term, Pandora’s box.

If you are familiar with the story of Pandora, from the Greek myth, she was given her famous box (which was actually a jar) as a wedding present.   In the story, Pandora marries Epimetheus whose name means Afterthought or Hindsight, whereas she might have made another choice marrying Epimetheus’ brother Prometheus, whose name means ‘Forethought.’  In the story we learn that Epimetheus was stupid and Prometheus, clever.

Pandora’s box (or jar) is interesting as a wedding guest for, as some readers of this blog will know, when it was opened, all the ills of the earth flew out;  death, destruction, plague, etc.  However, as the story goes right down at the bottom of the box was a single valuable thing: hope.

For me, the thing about hope is that it is future-focused.  It’s about the not yet.  It’s a partner with foresight.  For me, fundamentally this is why Pandora made a bad marriage choice. She chose Afterthought or Hindsight over Forethought.  As we reflect on the story, Pandora’s bad choice is obvious: hope and forethought go together.

So how does the moral of this tale apply to us as we resource our businesses and anticipate developing people and businesses.

I suppose the point about hope is obvious; although hope that is not rooted and grounded is so often a vanity and unrooted aspiration.

It seems to me that we can seek to root our hope in hindsight, on what’s gone before. Where will that get us:  more of what we’ve had before.  Alternatively, we can root our hope in foresight, in that which is not yet.  It seems to me that in these strange times, that is what we should do.

As I look at pretty much all of my business education and experience, I’ve found myself surrounded by people and ideas concerned with what others have done, other’s experiences to model and expectations based on established patterns and trends.  Worthy as this maybe in settled and constant realities, what happens when the situation changes and a storm is brewing.  For this is the environment of hindsight.

When situations change, when the world becomes uncertain, we need to raise our view and scan the horizon for signs of change, of danger and of opportunity.  This horizon scanning is the key attribute informing foresight.  This is the choice business needs to be making now, at this time.  We need the attributes of foresight and its partner, hope.

I am firmly of the opinion that businesses need to be provided with new resources that support horizon scanning.  This involves establishing a new perspective on reality.

I wonder whether you agree with me, that for too long businesses have, like Pandora been wed to hindsight when they should have chosen foresight.

Certainly, for me, as I’ve gone about researching the SPICE Framework and the digital platform we’ve created, I have been struck by the number of H.R., Consulting and Learning & Development providers who have been unaware of developing themes and practises on the horizon, staring them in the face.  I’ve wanted to shout at them, ‘Look at what is coming.  Can you not see!’.   Too many have been blind, looking back or looking to the ground.

We have created resources in the SPICE Framework (www.spiceframework.com) for those who are open to the future and to foresight, resources for those who are full of hope beyond these challenging times.

Written by Michael Croft

May 28, 2020