Barbara Heinzen, PhD
Anticipating crises
IconManaging uncertainty
IconAnticipating crises
IconInternal cohesion & skills
IconCompeting cultures
IconPublic dialogue
IconEcological challenges
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In an early assignment with the Dutch government, a crisis was defined as something which challenges the fundamental values and organisation of society.  Such challenges appear to be growing all the time and may be a symptom of necessary systemic change.  But how many businesses, government departments and voluntary organisations are preparing for crises?  What might such preparation entail?

Since the financial troubles that began in 2007, there has been a widening anxiety about other crises we might face, as well as continued doubt about the stability of the financial system.  Should we expect even more crises in the future and where might they appear?
  • Will global financial systems become even more unstable because they are too open and too interconnected? 
  • Is it possible that climate change will become a global emergency in the next five years?  Will we all be put on a ‘war-footing’ to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? What tipping points might we experience if emissions continue to grow?
  • Will we see widespread famine in India and China as rapid industrial growth undermines agriculture and the ecosystem services on which it depends? 
  • Will American security measures following the 2001 attacks leave a legacy of surveillance that tips into totalitarian excess, or will American society ‘self-correct’? 
One response to crisis is to work with people with different skills, beliefs and perspectives.  Despite that, there are very few places where people in established business and government positions meet regularly with unconventional thinkers and movements.  This reduces  everyone's ability to anticipate radical change and reduces everyone's connections to those who might unexpectedly help to manage a crisis when it arises. 

Public interest scenario work has created a safe space for such encounters, but many more forms of creative engagement now need to be found. 
? Barbara Heinzen, 2012. All rights reserved.