Wild cards are the term for extreme events that have a major impact on the world. The fall of the Berlin wall and 9/11 are some of the most salient examples of wild cards that had radical impact on all levels in the fabric of society. The nuclear disaster of Fukushima is one of the major wild cards that we are currently undergoing, and which isn’t solved yet. Wild cards have in common that people don’t see them coming or don’t read the signs pointing at wild cards. Wild cards are erratic. They are black swans, and can only be rationalized in hindsight. Their path is unpredictable and no one knows how the situation will be after things have settled down.
Framing the narrative
A wild card often cannot be interpreted in an objective way. Wild card events are shaping the public narrative and the story of the day. Horizon scanning and strategic analysis of global affairs help to understand the potential risks and the power of wild cards. And then again, how the stories around wild cards are framed. This also helps to see how wild cards can be used to build a better future.
Wild cards as launching platforms for building the future
In today’s interconnected world, big events naturally have global impact. Therefore, horizon scanning and spotting the early warnings of potential wild cards enables governments and private enterprises to anticipate such game changing events. In addition, it is useful to develop an eye for horizon scanning. This helps to get an overview of potential events in the near future based on an understanding of current affairs. This can be used as a launching platform to pitch an alternative future. More or less in the same way as the Fukushima wild card served the public debate and some political parties in Germany as the trigger to phase out nuclear energy.
Train your eyes to see the future
The sounds in the media of the status quo are often louder than sounds of the future. However, the status quo is in many ways already attributing the past. Alternative futures are often still weak and slumbering in niches. Wild card events, that generate a lot of attention, can and will be used to pitch an alternative future. Also, alternative futures can already be seen in weak signals, which may grow out into wild cards or in a new status quo. Studying wild cards, weak signals, and horizon scanning in general are great tools to use the course of events in building a better future. After all, studying the future is an imperative to create a better future.