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Posted by Tom Cheesewright on

8.5% of the Year is Gone Already. What Have You Done?

It’s a disturbing thought first thing on a February morning that the new year is not so new any more. By the end of this week a full tenth of the year will be gone. And most people are just getting started.

What have you done this year? And what are you going to do now?

We live, and work, in a fast-changing world. It’s hard to determine a focus. Hard to set priorities. Even harder not to get distracted by the constant pulls on your time. The urgent but not important. Before you know it, another month will have passed and you won’t have paid any more attention to the big picture.

This is how organisations fail. Lots of people sleepwalking into the future, until the future smacks them in the face.

Applied Futurism is about helping people and organisations to address this problem before it’s too late.

If you want to make changes in your organisation, and stop it from following the fate of so many others who have failed to look to the future, here are three things to think about.

1. Do you have a vision?

What does the future look like for your organisation? Have you or someone senior in the business spent time looking at the macro factors that might boost or batter your organisation in the coming months and years.

Business plans tend to be normative, based on an ideal future and the steps necessary to realise it. They are often too focused on internal factors, with external issues limited to competition and market forecasts. This is how major disruption is missed.

Think instead about a more wide-ranging, exploratory vision that takes into account all of the factors that might transform your market, before you lay out where you want to be in it.

2. Does everyone share your vision?

It’s not enough for a company’s leaders to have a vision. If it is to be effected, it needs to be shared: with customers, shareholders, and staff.

If you feel like your organisation is moving slowly it could be because you are pulling against some unnecessary tension or friction from one of these groups of stakeholders.

3. Are you equipped for change?

Change is hard for individuals, let alone whole organisations. But for some organisations it is harder than others because rigidity is baked in to the structure and the practices.

If your organisation has been doing the same thing for a long time, there’s likely to be extra resistance to change. If you work in a vertically integrated business in once sector, you might find people have often lost sight of the larger corporate goal.

One great test we put to organisations we work with is about how fast data flows. If the chief executive wants to get a message to customers, how long does that take? For example, a change in price, message, or product. And how long does it take for the response to reach the chief exec? Whether that’s sales numbers, safety issues, or service complaints. When they’re honest companies often accept that the answer to these questions can be measured in months.

Think about how to accelerate your organisation and make it agile.

Take these steps and with some effort, this time next year you won’t be ruing another lost month.

Tom Cheesewright