This is part two in a four part series. See part one here.
Go ahead and admit it!
If you are even a little like me, you have a curiosity for the future. I have always felt a fascination for what’s next more than a nostalgia for the past. Imagine my surprise to discover my brain is actually hardwired to foresee the future.
According to neurobiologists Dr. William Calvin and Dr. David Ingvar, our drive to tell stories about our future is hardwired into our human brain. It is closely linked to our ability to speak and construct language. So much so that future memory is a term coined by Swedish neurologists Ingvar. (The Art Of The Longview by Peter Schawrtz). We crave forward thinking and future foresight.
Our Brains Actually Crave Future Forward Thinking
According to neurobiologists, Drs. Calvin and Ingvar, the human brain is hardwired to envision the future. Our brains naturally drive us to consider, imagine and even plan for the future.
So take advantage of this neuro-need and ask leaders to offer future forward foresight advice for your organization. Have them practice strategic foresight about the organization’s programs, products and services.
Unlike other animals whose planning is hormonal and driven by seasonal patterns, the human brain is “capable of planning decades ahead, able to take account of extraordinary contingencies far more irregular than the seasons” (Schwartz, p. 31).
Go ahead and feed the brain-need with fuel for future change.
It’s Easier Than You Think
Our minds—the conscious and unconscious—have the extraordinary ability to look forward into the future. Each of us has this same neurological connection. We can use our imagination to develop our foresight and potential outcomes.
We can actually run through specific motions in our minds without ever moving our body. We can play out a variety of scenarios with different options to see which we like best.
Then without skipping a beat, we can run through the same motions for real. Our bodies and muscles move as commanded.
If you’ve ever presented, you may have constructed sentences first in your head. Next you might have written them down. We actually practice those sentences in our minds before we ever utter them in the actual presentation.
Similarly, when we sleep, our unconscious minds run through entire vignettes. We even dream possible dry runs for the future.
So you are already well-equipped to exercise future focused thinking and foresight. Some of us just need more practice at it. Some of us need to apply this future focus to our leadership and organizational strategies.
Go ahead. Give it a whirl!
Think, Think, Think About Your Organization’s Future
Think about your organization’s future in the next two to three years. What’s next for your annual meeting? What’s new for your membership services? What if all learning opportunities were a blend of face to face, hybrid, online and computer directed.
Encourage your imagination to reflect on some possible scenarios. Use novelty and even a sense of the absurd as well as your realism.
So practice that skill for future focused thinking. Encourage your colleagues and leaders to embrace scenario planning. Step into the future today!
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??