“Of all the possible worlds… which is the best” (Simon, 2019, p. 121)? This quote sums up the concept behind counterfactuals. A counterfactual provides alternative options to consider. Counterfactuals provide more than just choices; they also offer potential outcomes for each selection. They identify “what could be or what could be made to happen” (Turner et al., 2022, p. 8).

One counterfactual definition involves imagined alternatives: “An imagined alternative to reality about the past, sometimes expressed as ‘if only…' ” (Byrne, 2016, p. 136). Another definition identifies counterfactuals as conditional statements: “Counterfactuals are conditional statements that probe the direction and stability of a relationship between an event and its consequences” (Durand & Vaara, 2009, pp. 1249–1250). Using counterfactuals aids leaders and practitioners in making better decisions in advance, rather than relying on retrospective analyses.

We typically practice counterfactual thinking whenever we try...

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