Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Do rules reign?

How much structure do you require to feel save and happy in your life? The theory of foresight styles postulates that one’s personal need for structure partially affects where on the foresight style continuum one sits. Naturally, there are other personal characteristics that affect it as well. Earlier I have written about the temporal factor.

You can test your personal need for structure on a Scale.

Personal Need Structure or (PNS) is one of those few academic descriptions that don’t need interpretation. Think about the structure that you have in your life. Do you always put your keys in the same place? Do you want a written job description or just verbal instructions in the beginning?

I first became aware of the concept when I worked with thirty-five women in learning/executing a study of the future of the public sector in Sweden. Every time we had a participants meeting, there were some that asked question after question and others who understood directly and wanted to leave and start working. Those in the middle needed a little clarity, but pretty much understood and were greatly irritated by those who wanted more information and those who had one foot out the door. When I thought about it, I realized that every meeting I had ever been a part of had the same dynamic which illustrated individual differences of the participants. Obviously, others had made the same observation and have done some very detailed research on it. PNS is conceptually similar to how tolerant or intolerant we are of ambiguity, or as Geert Hofstede called it, Uncertainty Avoidance. These concepts, when applied to foresight have to look at what a high need for structure might mean to someone who is asked to thinking about the future. A logical extrapolation from the current situation could make the future a better or worse version of how it is today. Someone who has a low need for structure, and can handle more ambiguity and not shy away from uncertainty, might feel freer to create visionary or dystopic images of the future. Those in the middle of that spectrum might be inclined to put together current and past ideas, creating something new and yet not totally unfamiliar. It is clear that both positive or negative or mixed futures can come from individuals on the personal need for security spectrum. This is the starting point for many scenarios. However, when looking at why people choose one or the other or both, might lie in their orientation on what anthropologist Florence Kluckhohn used, scale of good to evil. In other words, we all sit somewhere on a belief spectrum from: people are basically good to people are basically evil. You are possibly starting to get the idea that there are a lot of factors that influence foresight. Research continues to flush them out. Keep reading here, we have and will discuss others.

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