Act and Intercept Your (Unknown) Future

This is a continuation of our posts about preparing for the future. It offers three questions about executing the decisions you will make to meet your future.

Today is yesterday’s future. What did you learn?

Let me be blunt — we, collectively, are terrible at executing projects. Lots of reasons, lots of excuses, but not a lot of well executed projects. And one of our big shortcomings is our unwillingness to learn from the results of the programs and projects we launch to get to the future.

We plan, we execute, we make mistakes, and then when the project if “finally finished” we drop it and get on to the next. No organizational learning takes place.

Sound familiar? I think it might. I’ve been involved with organizations for over fifty years and I have yet to hear any leader brag that projects in their unit/company/team are always on time, on budget and deliver full-scope, quality outcomes. Never.

Why is this so important? Because the pattern will persist.

If we want a better future we need to get better at today’s decision, actions, and projects. We need to learn from our successes and failure and then DO something.

Do you have the capabilities you need?

Here’s a question: Will the capabilities that got you and your team to today get you to tomorrow?

Here’s the answer: NO

Sure, some of today’s capabilities will be needed and will be useful. But others will be obsolete. And still others will be needed, but absent.

Develop your vision of the future and work backwards. What must you be able to do to make the future real?

And note that knowledge, although important, is not enough. For example, I know a lot about sinus surgery; but you would not want me operating on your nose. You may know a lot about how other companies have used “big data,” but that does not mean you are capable of important data-based decisions.

If we want a better future we need to build capabilities that will be needed to get us there. Learning should be future-oriented.

What took you so long to act?

All of us have four overarching responsibilities as we try to intercept our future.

We need to sense the signals of tomorrow. We need to make sense of these signals. We need to decide on a course of action. And we need to act on these decisions. These four responsibilities depict a cycle, as shown in the graphic above.

This cycle, the Sense-Response Cycle, has to run at least as fast as your industry is evolving. If not, you become irrelevant. And that means that each responsibility has to be performed at the pace of industry evolution. Bottom line? You have to be good at executing each of the responsibilities.

Look at your weaknesses and get better. Either that, or become irrelevant. It’s your choice.

Coming in 2021

The Future is Coming: Don’t be Taken by Surprise — A new course coming in 2021

We will launch a pilot in January. Like our recently competed pilot, The Pragmatic Strategist, this course will be a high-tech / high-touch hybrid of reading, videos, group discussions (via Zoom) and workbook exercises. I’ll announce the topics and details soon.

Reach out if you want to get on our list for the pilot or if you’d like a copy of our recent whitepaper describing the context and focus of the course. The pilot is not free, but the discount is significant.

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