“The most important work of a future simulation is to prepare our minds and stretch our collective imagination, so we are more flexible, adaptable, agile, and resilient when the “unthinkable” happens.” – Jane McGonigal
Imagine you could look ten years into the future. Do you feel confident we’d be prepared? In Imaginable: How to See the Future Coming and Feel Ready for Anything, game designer and futurist Jane McGonigal challenges us to unstick our minds, think the unthinkable, and imagine the unimaginable. Here in the Pentagon, the Air Force A5/7 Futures Team is busy employing environmental scanning, trend analysis, and building scenarios to visualize the 2040 Future Operating Environment to help the Air Force cultivate a mindset of anticipatory thinking while enabling resilient decisions.
Deepening our understanding of world leaders and their path to leadership represents another prerequisite to improving future modeling. The Economist’s The Prince: Searching for Xi Xinping podcast is a perceptive and compelling eight-episode narrative that lifts the veil behind the PRC leader’s early life and rise to power. By scanning the past for indications and trends, we minimize uncertainty about our present operating environment and use that knowledge help us manage strategic competition and gain competitive advantages.
Over two years into my tenure as Chief of Staff, bureaucratic reform continues to remain a challenge and a top concern. I often remark during meetings “I wish I could introduce the staff to the staff.” Gillian Tett’s The Silo Effect: The Peril of Expertise and the Promise of Breaking Down Barriers illustrates how the principles of anthropology can help us break down barriers and promote a greater degree of interdependence. Our innovative success emerges not from formal organizational “silos,” but through informal and unplanned interactions across our departments, staffs, and disciplines.
Fly, Fight, & Win…Airpower Anytime, Anywhere!
CHARLES Q. BROWN, JR.
General, U.S. Air Force
Chief of Staff
Editor’s note: The CSAF Leadership Library is a fluid set of media selected by Gen. Brown that evolves as novel ideas are published, recorded and debated. New entries will be added periodically throughout the year.