Times of crisis dramatically shift the Overton Window: things that were once unthinkable are now sensible, even popular.
WHAT IS THE OVERTON WINDOW?
The Overton Window is used to grade ideas on a scale from “unthinkable” to “popular.” It’s widely used by politicians, for example:
- Politico reported on how President Trump and his administration use it.
- Democrats use it, too: “Medicare for all” was a fringe idea the first time Bernie Sanders competed for his party’s nomination; now it’s considered more mainstream.
HOW CAN THE OVERTON WINDOW HELP ME?
Visionaries and change-makers naturally think outside the box. (Or in this case, the window.) Things that seem radical to others are commonsense to them.
That’s sometimes a curse. But right now, it’s a superpower.
As our communities move through the COVID health emergency and its related economic crisis, there will be plenty of room for ideas that were once unthinkable.
THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO HELP ORGANIZATIONS AND COMMUNITIES MOVE BEYOND “BACK TO NORMAL”
“Back to normal” is insufficient, because “normal” was broken. Inequality was growing. The educational achievement gap was expanding. The middle class was shrinking.
If you feel an obligation to seed the future with better ideas, to move the window towards a future that works better for more people, the Overton Window is a good framework to use.
Rebecca Ryan, APF
Rebecca Ryan captains the ship. Trained as a futurist and an economist, Rebecca helps clients see what's coming - as a keynote speaker, a Futures Lab facilitator, an author of books, blogs and articles, a client advisor, and the founder of Futurist Camp. Check out her blog or contact Lisa Loniello for more information.
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