Time in strategic foresight and warning is a crucial problem, as underlined in “Time in Strategic Foresight and Risk Management” and pointed out in “Everstate’s characteristics“.

We shall still need much effort and research before to obtain detailed, proper and actionable timelines – and this without even considering timeliness.

For the Chronicles of Everstate, we looked for an interesting way to present time, considering our very imperfect knowledge and understanding of “historical time”.

One of the possible solutions was to locate the Chronicles in a very distant time. This was the first option we explored, to start our scenarios in an imaginary year 5230. However, considering the unconscious or conscious mental associations that readers could make for such a year, as well as the very real possible historical developments on planet Earth, this was unsatisfactory.

A second solution explored, was to use a less precise timeline such as the Near Future and the Far Future. This was also disappointing as we would then lose the benefit of a chronology, however imperfect, and of sequences when they crucial in terms of policies and responses.

The best solution* was to remain true to our methodology. As we had created an imaginary modern nation-state, we created the corresponding imaginary time, Evertime: a time that mirrors our own as if in a parallel dimension, yet with an imprecision of dates.

Using years mirroring more or less ours could also help us identifying with hindsight what can be improved and why. Thus methodology and analysis can benefit.

The Chronicles of Everstate thus started in 2011 EVT (EVT being the acronym for Evertime).

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*This solution was found during a brainstorming with our art director, Jean-Dominique Lavoix-Carli, to whom I am truly indebted for helping this idea to emerge. This underlines, once more, the value of brainstorming involving people coming from very different and diverse backgrounds.

About the author: Dr Helene Lavoix (MSc PhD Lond)

Dr Helene Lavoix, PhD Lond (International Relations), is the Director of The Red (Team) Analysis Society. She is specialised in strategic foresight and warning for national and international security issues. Her current focus is on Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Science, and Security. She teaches at Master level at SciencesPo-PSIA.

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7 Comments

  1. i wonder if turning the clock back like this ,is a credible idea. i dont understand whats wrong with real time,is it that analysts need a time frame thats predictable?is that why your doing this?neat idea though.

    1. I am not sure I follow what you mean by “turning the clock back”… If it is in terms of changing what I published yesterday, this is part of science or should be part of any analysis for that matter – to always doubt and try to obtain some better understanding and to question our own hypotheses with falsification, rather than look for confirmation. It is also the disadvantage of the way I work on the Chronicles of Everstate, I am working and writing on the issue while publishing, although the main model and the methodology have been devised, finalized and tested a few months ago. Nevertheless, my ideas evolve with practice and time .
      If it is related to the timeframe, I am not turning the clock back, just creating another timeframe.
      Actually there is nothing wrong with real time, it is just that there is hardly any research done – to my knowledge – on the time component of events and dynamics in social science: if we look at, for example revolutions, or wars, we will research the why, the how, the what, but not in relation with time. As a result, I have been unable to enter precise and as scientifically grounded as possible times in my model. Thus Evertime is also a way to warn the reader about this.
      Yes, having a precise timeframe is crucial in terms of strategic foresight and warning because ultimately we do it to allow decision-makers and policy makers (and whomever) to take decisions in the present regarding the future. What we decide to do and when will vary according to the time frame… a very early example of SF&W is when priests gave the signal to start planting crops, and then when to harvest them. Actually, we could wonder if any decision can truly be separated from its timeframe?

  2. This certainly seems like an effective approach. It provides both the ready comfort of “current time,” but does not constrain us to current circumstances.

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