Strategic foresight is a competency that all leaders need today!
Yet rarely do we discuss it. Much less practice it for our future planning. And hardly ever do we foster organizational cultures of future forward thinking instead of lollygagging leadership.
So how does a leader develop and refine this skill? What exactly is strategic foresight? And how can we use this skill effectively to propel our organization’s success?
Start Here: Three Tips
So where do I begin?
Start here. Do not pass go! Start right now wherever you are.
1. Encourage leaders to develop and provide foresight in addition to their traditional oversight and insight.
Begin by encouraging your leaders to provide foresight, oversight, and insight. Instead of dilly dallying with daily operations, they should think future forward. This will give your organization the strategic advantage.
Developing foresight is a responsibility all association boards must develop and refine today says the ever future focused strategist Jeff De Cagna.
For associations to survive and thrive in a time of constant change, their leaders need to develop a clear-eyed and disciplined focus on the future. The duty of foresight is a responsibility that boards must embrace now.
2. Use scenario planning activities regularly in leadership meetings to practice strategic foresight.
Strategic foresight centers on the principle of “backcasting.” A participant starts from an anticipated future, and then moves back to the present. Using both scientific and intuitive techniques and frameworks they consider various options and moves. (Marsh author of Strategic foresight: The power of standing in the future.)
Have your leaders regularly practice scenario planning—outlining one to three potential futures with various possibilities. They can then deliberate how they, their team and customers might respond to each scenario says the Center for Creative Leadership‘s Pete Hammet.
Scenario planning is a matter of training yourself to think through how things might happen that you might otherwise dismiss. You want to entertain, understand and get to know the shape of an unfolding reality.
Consider: ‘What if? questions to begin that forward thinking initiative says The Art Of The Long View author’s P. Schwartz. That’s the exact opposite of most leaders’ thinking which analyzes the past. It is often hard for sociologists, accountants and historians who study what is and the past.
To this end, scenario planning enables us to understand how the future might unfold as a result of our decisions and external influencers.
3. Adapt the traditional oversight leadership agenda to be more future focused.
Another great starting place comes from Mckinsey Quarterly authors Christian Casal and Christian Caspar.
Change the traditional board agenda to be more future focused they say. And they offer a concrete example of future focused agenda with activities for a 12-month period. [This is good stuff too!]
Want more tips to creating future focused forward thinking leadership? Look for five more steps for today’s future focused leadership in the next post.
What percentage of your time is devoted to future forward thinking strategy versus rear view mirror analysis? Can leaders develop foresight practices or is it something they are born with in their DNA??