We all use rules of thumb to guide us. Barbara Heinzen’s rules of thumb begin with a simple one: find the right question. In Africa, the development community frequently talks about good governance, as if governance were a new feature of the landscape. By first asking, ‘who is accountable to whom and how?’ existing governance systems can be identified and strengthened.
Another rule of thumb is to look for the continuities. Many scenario exercises concentrate on what is changing and what is uncertain. However, the future will also be shaped by things that do not change or which are inescapable. These are the solid stones on which planners can stand, although there is usually considerable debate before identifying them.
A third rule of thumb is that resistance is meaningful. This insight originally came from reading Jung’s autobiography when he was complaining about a patient who never took his advice. Eventually Jung realised that it would have been suicidal for his patient to do what Jung was asking. In organisations and societies, change is often resisted because it is believed to be suicidal in one way or another.