Updated: Feb 3, 2021
If you're like most performance-oriented organizations you likely spend some time and resources trying to predict the future. Stop. You’re wasting precious time. You don’t need to predict a future to succeed in the future.
5 Steps to "Foresight Lite"
I understand the need to forecast and feed business planning with assumptions. That’s standard practice. But I’m also seeing people launch into leadership brainstorming sessions that coalesce around one vision of the future--and then embark on strategic planning around that singular vision. There’s a reason every single prognosticator to predict the end of the world has been wrong (so far). Specificity.
Worry less about predicting the future and more about preparing for it
Create multiple futures
Instead, for those contemplating what comes next in a post-COVID-19 world consider taking a futures and foresight approach. Worry less about predicting the future and more about preparing for it. This is by no means a deep dive. But even these three brief steps set you on a path of preparedness for multiple possible futures.
Identify 2-3 important industry trends that change as a result of this pandemic
For each trend describe a handful of probable future states
For each trend contemplate 1-2 possible but highly unlikely states
Make it Real and Take Action
At this point, you’re swimming in multiple possible futures. You have some nice linear trend projections--likely with some high/medium/low variations. And you have some real wild cards thrown in there. Looking at both is important. The future is a blend of ongoing trends and high-impact/low-probability events. The beauty of this exercise is you don’t have to be right. Translating your set of possible futures into planning requires only two additional steps.
Identify the capabilities and resources prevalent across many of your future states
Commit to actions you can take today on resources and capabilities that are good ideas in almost any future
Again, this is not a comprehensive strategic foresight approach. But with so many of us out there pivoting toward what’s next and the new normal, I hope it’s enough to get us started.
Between the paralysis of infinite possibilities and the limitation of singular visions lies a wide expanse of fertile ground. Plant here to prepare for your future without needing to predict it.