Regan Robinson on the Future
October 27, 2023
The biggest mistake is waiting until it's too late to see about the future.

 Short-termism is the biggest reason your company were will fail or downturn in the next five years. While you can make money off a declining business model for years, data shows that once a company runs up against a major stall and its growth, it has less than 10% chance of ever fully recovering. Those odds are daunting, right? Prevention is better than cure. 

Research shows that companies with a dedicated foresight methodology and resources are 33% more profitable, and achieve a 200% higher growth rate than the average company that doesn't. Being proactive is one of the most powerful ways your company can stop wasting time, money and human potential. Operationalizing foresight enhances your team's imagination and innovation capacity, and it elevates your team's strategic agility and resilience. It might sound counterintuitive that thinking about the future helps free you from being overwhelmed and anxious in the present. And it liberates your team from uncertainty;  uncertainty hamstrings decision making. 

Future Ready leaders know that being prepared for what's next isn't a business decision or an annual activity. It is a way of being that turns uncertainty into their strategic advantage. But to do it effortlessly, tou've got to develop and train your muscles just like an athlete. 

"Prevention is better than cure. It's true for your health, but it is also true for your company's health. "

One aspect of the work that I do with leaders and teams is helping them recognize unconscious biases and unhelpful assumptions so that they can start to shift their mindsets, address their emotions and get unstuck. There are nearly 200 cognitive biases that affect our thinking and decision making. That sheer amount alone should teach us some humility. There are also many psychological blockages to future-oriented thinking and planning. For example, something you're probably all familiar with the tyranny of the urgent. This is the tendency to prioritize responding to today's pressure causing you to lose out on the opportunity to develop transformational strategies that keep you ahead of the curve of change. 

Or one of my personal favorites: busyness is the new stupid. Being crazy busy enhances our perceived status and self-worth worth. Busyness is all also an anesthetic, there actually is a great existential comfort and feeling like alright, I know what to do. But here's the problem. Being 100% flat out on execution, and decisions made in the past does not bode well for the future.

One way to start thinking about the future is by articulating your assumptions about a topic without overthinking it. An assumption is an unexamined belief: things that are accepted as true are certain to happen, but likely without any proof. Then you're going to flip your assumptions or find an alternative possibility even if that flip version seems impossible, or unimaginable. If you feel yourself fiercely resisting the possibility of something or even if you have ethical concerns about it great, you have actually found a possibility that will help you practice taking in information that makes you uncomfortable. And this is a critical imagination, training skill. Anything that you instinctively dismiss as impossible or as outrageous reveals a potential blind spot about your imagination. You know, it is easy to prepare for futures that are similar to today that makes sense or seemed normal and reasonable. But it is the unimaginable stuff that catches us off guard. But it could also possibly be our best opportunities. It's the possibilities that make us say that is ridiculous or that could never happen. That is actually what we need to spend some time taking seriously. And that's because those are the futures that could be most shocking, most disruptive and most challenging if they come to pass remember December 2019. 

Now that you've got a list of flipped or alternative assumptions, you're going to look for emerging signals that show your ideas are plausible and could possibly lead to the strange flip future you've articulated. These signals are our evidence of change happening today. 


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