Becoming a Future-Ready Organization: Moving Your Dot

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This week I have the privilege of conducting some workshops with higher education professionals in Florida at the NACCAP ‘15 conference. I will be speaking about developing organizations which are resilient amidst change. Today’s blog shares three Future-Ready principles that we will be speaking about.

Principle 1: Strategy defines your preferred future.

When you make a plan, you place an invisible dot in the future that says, “I want to be here at a defined time”. Sometimes this dot is in the near future such as picking up the kids from school in an hour. Conversely, when an organization sets a five year strategy in place, they are placing their dot in the distant future. Wherever it is, your dot defines your preferred future. Future-Ready organizations have a deep understanding of their preferred future and can tell a robust story about their dot.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it”. Peter Drucker

Principle 2: We have three ways by which we define our preferred future.

Research reveals that individuals view things through one of three time orientations; the past, the present or the future. If you have a past orientation, you make plans by assessing what can be learned from history. Those with a present orientation evaluate their current circumstances in order to make decisions. If you have a future orientation, you think and dream about the future before you make plans. Each of these orientations is valuable for different reasons. As a result, good plans involve all three of these perspectives. Effective leaders learn from the past, leverage the present and prepare for the future.

“We do not see things as they are. We see things as we are”. Anais Nin

Principle 3: The uncertainty of your preferred future increases as your time horizon increases.

The further your invisible dot is from today, the greater the uncertainty about whether or how it can be achieved. Many things can occur which will affect your plans to pick up the kids from school in an hour. However, this uncertainty is significantly magnified if you stretch your time horizon to 3, 5 or 10 years. This means that Future-Ready organizations must embrace uncertainty and develop the capacity to quickly adjust their dot when unexpected changed occur. This is called strategic agility. It is not the ability to know the future, but rather, the ability to anticipate and respond to it more quickly than others do!

“Change is the way that the future invades our lives. Leadership is the way that we invade our future”. Alvin Toffler, Susan Komives.

Change is inevitable! However, successful organizations invade the future by understanding and applying these three principles. Strategic efforts should define your preferred future. Your time orientation affects how we think and plan for the future. Finally, longer time horizons have higher uncertainty. Through the use of strategic foresight, organizations can develop the capacity to make adjustments when things affect our preferred future. The ability to more dots quickly will be a hallmark of effective organizations in the 21st century!


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Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

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