Decide and Meet Your (Unknown) Future

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

What does the future of present decisions look like?

The late management sage, Peter Drucker, wrote “Strategic planning does not deal with future decisions, It deals with the futurity of present decisions.” What you do today will play out, for better or worse, in the future.

For example, the decades of past decisions companies have made focused on efficiency left many organizations too fragile to absorb disruptions to supply chain or too weak to prevent damage from a cyber-attack. Effectiveness suffered because of efficiency-focus decisions.

Or consider the problems associated with the student loan “industry.” For good and bad reasons young people made decisions to accept student loans. The “futurity” of those past decisions are haunting many of them today.

Take a look at a personal or organizational impending decision and think about the chain of intended and unintended consequences and the consequences of those consequences. How smart might your decision look in three to five years?

What are you afraid of?

Fear is demonstrated in our personal and organizational attitudes about risk.

Risk is a reality of organizational life and many organizations are risk-adverse to the point of paralysis. C-level execs are afraid of damaging stock price. Managers are afraid of making a mistake and damaging their career prospects. Or, they hear the call for more risk-taking, but realize that their bonus depends on short-term goal achievement, not long-term success.

The future is a scary place. As we look into the future we see many unknown and unknowable scenarios. So we tread lightly and move slowly.

And that’s when entrepreneurs make a move and surprise industry giants. Today we worry that Amazon is going to totally dominate the retail world or upset the pharmacy dominance of Walgreens and CVS. I’m old enough to remember when they were nothing more than an upstart online bookseller.

What are you afraid of? What should you be afraid of?

Who owns your future?

The obvious answer to the question is “You, of course.” But be honest. Nobody or no thing owns you, but they might own your future. Have you unwittingly “mortgaged” your future to the point where someone else really owns it?

Are you in a job that’s taking you into a dead-end future?

Has your organization focused too much on past success and its future is really owned by an upstart competitor?

Is your future owned by your credit card?

What decisions do you need to make today to “buy back” your future or the future of your organization?

Next

Seeing, thinking and deciding are fine, but only action will get you to the future. Unfortunately, in my 50+ years of work I’ve never come across an organization that bragged that their projects were always on-time, on-budget, and produced full-scope, quality outcomes. I’ll post another “episode” of the Sense-Response Cycle in a few days. Stay tuned.

Coming in 2021

We will launch a pilot course in January focused on helping managers and professionals be better prepared for their future. 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.

Reach out if you want to get on our list for the pilot. It’s not free, but the discount is significant. I’ll announce the topics and format soon.

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