Not Fit for this Future

Photo by Nick Bolton on Unsplash
  • Most international humanitarian and development organisations are very good at responding to the fire-fighting of today. As institutions are analysing what new normals might emerge, it is absolutely integral to go beyond the shiny rhetoric of first order impacts and scenarios. To be anti-fragile requires the conscious work of deeper, longer term implications to better understand the social, structural and policy level shifts that might need to occur.
  • Acknowledging that new normals are emerging of converging, critical uncertainties — it isn’t happening in isolation. There is a lot we don’t know and we cannot possibly espouse to know, and policy and framework design has to build uncertainty into its very layers. Confusing robust scenario design (that inherently are built on uncertainties) with risk modelling forecasts, falls back on assumption #1 mentioned previously.
  • The race to re-framing and re-design programs and services, requires an all of institution transformation. It is not merely about responding to the externalities. It also requires a shift of structure, model, decision making, risk appetite, financing, collaborations, cultures, and internal agility.
  • Taking a broader, inter-connected systems approach to new normals, offers the opportunity for institutional influence of what these normals might be, rather than merely reacting to mitigate the negative impacts of what new commons emerge
  • Unapologetically embracing radical, intersectional equity. This is no longer a ‘cross-cutting’ issue. Our out-dated assumptions cause blind spots, and those that fundamentally need the most protection get missed, because they are either not considered, or not meaningfully integrated into design. The age of top down saviours is well and truly over.
  • Interrogating what has to die so that the right thing can live in institutional redesign, and how to get it to gracefully exit as quickly as possible has to become a common question we ask. Continuing what we have always done because it’s ‘just the way it is’ — without careful consideration — is knowingly irresponsible.



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Aarathi Krishnan

Aarathi Krishnan

Humanitarian Futures and Strategic Foresight Advisor. Interested in cultural, indigenous, feminist & decolonising futures. All views my own