What’s next?

How much of our time is spent focusing on the present, the things that must be taken care of right now? In our always connected world thinking, exploring and imagining often seem like luxuries we simply don’t have time to take on. But narrowly focusing on today can blind-side you to shifts and opportunities that will impact your industry, profession or organization.

Imagine what might be possible if you spent just one hour a week considering what your organization might do, be or how it could operate in the next one, two or three years.

Most industry changes don’t happen overnight. It may seem that mobile technology, the economy, or competition just pop up, but chances are we just missed the shift. Occasionally looking up, considering what’s going on in and outside of your organization will help you see when a shift might be coming.

Exploring what is going on with your team, colleagues, partners or members can help to expand perspectives of your organization, member (or potential member) needs and build comfort and understanding of what might be coming in the future.

Getting started is not that hard. Smart discussions can engage people, surface perspectives, ideas and opportunities and motivate your team. If you open these discussions, you MUST be prepared to listen. Auto response to future discussions or any talk of change is often to refute, deny, disagree or just simply shut it down. These responses can be harmful. Remember the last time you were asked for your opinion only to have the asker question, ridicule or refute your suggestion? It’s not fun and for many people it is the perfect excuse to step back and decide to keep their head down and just do the easy work.

Being open to new ideas requires some work, a lot of listening and asking questions. You can build these skills. An easy entry point is simply asking a thought provoking question and invite people to share their perspectives, ideas and questions. Questions to consider:

  • What might we do next year that is impossible now? What can we do this year that was impossible last year?
  • What impacts our ability to serve our members, industry or potential market? How are these changing?
  • What is impacting or influencing our members and their work? How might this impact their interest/ability to work with us?

When ideas, concerns, potential challenges or opportunities come up, keep the discussion moving. Ask:

  • What information could help us better understand the issue/opportunity?
  • How might needs or interests change?
  • What can we do now to strengthen our organization to better serve our members/market?
  • What one thing while seemingly impossible could make a tremendous difference?

Not quite ready to lead the charge in future thinking? Take two months to build your personal comfort by developing your awareness and understanding of issues. Commit one hour a week to exploring issues that impact your business/industry, potential trends and forces or related industries. Try checking out online resources, talking with colleagues or others in your field or related fields, or seeing what your competitors are up to.

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