The only constant in life is change – Heraclitus
Given the way the world is currently, a more apropos version of this for our times might be, “The only certainty in life is uncertainty.”
So how do you prepare to live into an uncertain future with confidence and even hope, when you don’t know what the future will be like?
Is there anything you can plan or are you destined to follow the smiling Cheshire Cat’s “gotcha” proclamation to Alice in Alice in Wonderland of: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there?”
We believe there is a plan you can follow that we call PrePARE for your future.
PrePARE stands for:
- Pre – take a “future back” approach to your present situation
- P – pivot your mind to be aligned with that vision
- A – align your people and everyone that vision affects to be also aligned with that vision
- R – resolve the conflicts in your mind so you can pivot and resolve all the resistance to change in your organization to align with that vision
- E – execute action to keep moving towards that vision
In their book, Lead from the Future: How to Turn Visionary Thinking into Breakthrough Growth, authors Mark Johnson and Josh Suskewicz outline and explain their “Future Back” approach which is to envision a future ten years from now, see what you discover when you do that, and then reverse engineer that back to the present.
Why ten years?
Because envisioning a future 1, 3 or even 5 years is too soon and will be “corrupted” by near term ROI thinking and envisioning a future beyond 10 years is just too far for people to wrap their heads, and then their hands, around.
For instance, in their book, Johnson and Suskewicz tell the story of working with a major car manufacturer who was resistant to electric cars, but after consulting to them and doing sessions with them about envisioning the future ten year from their present, most of what they saw were electric cars and so that enabled them to pivot, align and begin to execute in that direction.
How can you apply this to your business if you’re much smaller than a Fortune 500 company?
- Meet with your executive team and heads of your departments monthly
- Together think of the market you are currently serving with your products or services
- Together envision your market ten years from now and the most critical problems they will need to solve to survive and thrive
- Together envision how your products and services will need to be different from what they are now to help them solve those future problems
- Alternatively, if you don’t want to be restricted by thinking of your present market, together envision what problems in the future your products and services will be the best solutions – i.e. better than your competition
- Additionally think about what future problems your products and services if only your products and services could do what…
- Together envision what market will most critically need what your products and services will be able to do in the future
Once you as the owner/entrepreneur/founder clearly see that ten year vision for your company or organization, sit with it for a week to see if you get distracted by another vision or want to chase another shiny object. Also drill down during that week and be able to answer to yourself, “Why that vision?” And make sure that vision gains your “buy in.” To make that happen, does that vision meet these criteria:
- Makes sense – appears as if the future you’re envisioning is sound
- Feels right – feels as though your future product or service would actually work to help make that future a reality
- Seems doable – is realistic vs. merely reasonable. Reasonable makes sense, realistic is likely to happen. Doable means that you can assemble all the essential components including personnel to make it happen.
My apologies for the excess of quotes, but two more come to mind that make the point of how necessary it is to now align everyone who will be critical to making that vision a reality.
“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” from Robert Burns
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” is a proverb of unknown origin.
I don’t think further explanation is necessary to demonstrate how both of those quotes demonstrate the importance of getting people on board and then committed to taking the proper actions if you want to accomplish anything.
But here’s the deal, not only do you need to pivot how you see into the future, you also need to pivot the way you look at your people and their resistance to change, because as you’ll discover if you read this: Overcoming Resistance to Change in Others and Yourself, resistance to change doesn’t exist.
Resolve means three things.
- Having the firm unwavering “resolve” i.e. intention + commitment to move toward that ten-year future.
- Resolving any conflicts in your mind that get in the way of pivoting your thinking, vision, mission and strategy.
- Resolving any conflicts in your organization with your people that get in the way of pivoting your thinking, vision, mission and strategy.
To do the above, answer what do you need to stop doing, even if you love those things, in order to pivot and focus on moving in the direction of the ten-year visualized future? And then resolve to do it.
In this video Jony Ive recounts what Steve Jobs told him that kind of focus required:
Take action. Have a plan for who will do what, when and why and a system that includes a formal monthly meeting to make sure that everyone continues to see the vision, understands the strategy and is executing what they need to realize that vision.
One step to PrePARE for your future is to have a meeting with your key people and share this article with them and have them weigh in on how valid and applicable it is to your organization.
And of course, we are always at your service to assist you so you will successfully PrePARE for your future.