For most of my life, I’ve had a natural curiosity about and pull towards the work of strategy and envisioning the future. I need to understand what’s coming and where we are headed when I’m involved in something that matters. But, I’ve been repeatedly shocked at how poor most organizations and leaders are in this domain. Strategy is treated as a “nice to have” in too many organizations. And even when the process of strategic planning is undertaken, it’s rushed and poorly executed.
Thinking about the future is hard because there are no certainties. It takes time to truly ponder what might lie ahead and it’s profoundly uncomfortable. But, it’s also vitally important and, in my opinion, a powerful way to gain advantage and increase your probability of success.
Today, I am excited to feature a post from my friend, Rebecca Ryan, a professional Futurist, author, and speaker, to help shine a light on the importance of futuring and strategic foresight. Enjoy.
Hi, I’m a futurist.
“What’s that?” you ask.
You’ve just popped the biggest question I get (followed by the coy “What’s my future?”)
Futuring is a process of looking at the future (instead of the past) as a way to predict what’s coming, so you can be ready for it.
Sounds intuitive, right? Until you consider how most of us do “strategic planning.”
Step 1: Open last year’s plan
Step 2: Update a few numbers and dates.
Step 3: Save and close.
Say this next sentence out loud. Slowly.
Most of us do our planning for the future based on last year.
It’s vacation season, so let me put it another way: you wouldn’t drive cross-country looking only your rearview mirror, would you? That’s dangerous. And illegal. Yet this is precisely what most organizations do: they look into their proverbial rearview mirror – at what’s behind them, in the past – when they start planning their future.
It wasn’t always like this. In America, we used to predict the future…like grownups, using professionals. But that ended about twenty years ago and now, futuring in our country has been overtaken by pop futurists who appear on stage in a Me Parade, i.e. “Here-are-all-the-predictions-I’ve-made-that-have-been-right.”
No wonder people think futuring is a hoax.
But, like artisan cheeses and bespoke clothing, those of us who know how to do it the right way, by hand with care, continue to churn out amazing insights about the future, your future.
No, I can’t tell you your future. But I can teach you how to figure out what your plausible futures might be.
About the author: Rebecca Ryan is a futurist and economist and a long time friend of Jason Lauritsen. This summer Jason’s going to Rebecca’s Futurist Camp at Camp Wandawega. He will drive there and back using primarily his windshield, not his rearview mirror. Join him at camp or watch for future posts with Jason and Rebecca about the Future of Work.