One of the most rewarding aspects of working with strategy and innovation, growth as well as transformation teams is watching how they grow in their ability to ‘stretch into the future’.
Here are super-talented individuals, who have been selected to re-imagine the organisation’s future, to develop new offerings and solutions, to become catalysts for change. They are change-makers, in the full sense of the word.
The ability to envision the future, the terrains ahead and how we can navigate them requires of these individuals a stretch, the ability to detach from our current realities, use data differently and construct what is not obvious to the majority of individuals in the organisation, and often beyond it.
In her book, The Optimist’s Telescope, author and Editor of the Boston Globe, Bina Venkataraman, argues that we have taken a wrong turn in our endeavours to become change-makers. We are making short-sighted, even careless decisions which would have an impact on our colleagues, organisations, at times even our societies, for a long while to come. She found that we privilege information-gathering over judgment in making key decisions, we listen selectively and shy away from dilemmas – an essential part of the work of change makers. More than anything, we find it hard to sacrifice instant gratification, positive feedback or incentive for a delayed reward. We allow ourselves to indulge now, even if it means courting later disaster.
We find a similar experience in our work. Those who have been entrusted to ‘create the future’ are often constrained by the organisation’s focus on the present. It may be subtle, such as over-reliance on reporting strategic initiatives and their short-term impact, or it may be more direct. In fact, we find that over 50% of change maker’s time is spent in the current reality and what feeds it.
The good news is that this can be changed. We can stretch into the future to inform today’s decisions. We can make our strategy process more adaptive, incorporate new signals and act on them, and we can help in transforming and growing new core businesses, not just optimising the current.
For change makers and the organisations they represent, this is a dilemma worth solving.
Have a good weekend everyone!
Becoming a change-maker is a conscious choice we have made. Here is our story – how we see the world and the values we practice, to bring our people and clients together, to power growth and create lasting impact. I hope it resonates with you, perhaps even ignites the spark of possibility. Our manifesto