The future starts today. It is going to be the way it will be. And yet it was decided yesterday and today whether we will be ready for it, successful and content.
Our prediction tools have by now taken on the guise of magical rituals. We are under pressure to perform and as a result are largely reactive; our strategy rounds are more or less explicit competitions for shares of the budget. In many contexts, we ask for future scenarios to be developed, turn them into topics for conferences. Yet we allow these to enter our daily routines far too rarely. With hindsight we can see that there always was at least one view that had been right, but how were we to know that at the time? How are we to know today?
When we address the future and look for answers about what the future will ask of us, we often look for concrete actions and projects. Where future is growing increasingly unpredictable and apocalyptic, utopian, dystopian and classical European progress predictions intermingle, our ability to deal with the future will hinge more than anything else on our ability to adapt quickly. An internal range of voices and diversity are the basic requirements to be able to deal with an uncertain future. That is only possible, however, with the ability to rely not only on one big idea, but rather on the organisation’s ability to have ideas in reaction to whatever may come. One of the lessons we are currently learning is that our societies are not trivial, and do not have stable patterns. Things that work today may be outdated by tomorrow and will no longer have the predicted effect. We live and act in systems that are not trivial. Our systems have to be treated watchfully: we have to perceive, try actions, correct, discover stable patterns, do more of what worked before and be ready to try something new at the drop of a hat, because we know how unstable the patterns really are.
Management still has the responsibility to secure the daily business, to act today. Leadership has to take care of future feasibility. Good managers are driven by one question: »Am I and is my organization ready for the future?«
We can be certain of that only with hindsight, when everything will be clear. But we have to act today. Without a notion of the future, without a description of the horizons, we will not be able to make our organisations ready for the future. These horizons have to be open, however: they have to describe possibilities and not forestall a reality. They have to confront the range of simultaneous possibilities that define our global sphere of action.
Psychological leadership education has taught us to work with personality tests. We know that they don’t analyse our personality and don’t paint a true picture of ourselves. They give us insights into trends and preferences for actions; we can use our knowledge of ourselves to employ them to identify our strengths and weaknesses. Doing so extends our own potential to react, we regain the ability to surprise. We no longer act by trivially following a preferences, but gain the flexibility to take into account a range of situations.
Do we consider our organisation in a similar manner? Do we give it the opportunity to perceive itself in its preferences for certain decisions and actions? To know where the future lies, we need to be able to position ourselves in the present.
SYNNECTA is preparing a Zukunftscheck for organisations in order provide a point of reference in this multivalent scene and make it possible to situate oneself within it. In order to define the dimensions that allow us to reflect, we have made a concentrated summary of the dynamics that are currently taking our present towards an open future. From these dynamics, we can conclude the dimensions that allow organisations to perceive which preferences and patterns are driving them, which aspects they are lacking in order to be fit for the future: to possess diversity, have many voices and to be open to confront the accelerated dynamics of change with their own changes.
»It has to be said, really, that the entire economy has shifted into a permanent crisis reaction mode.«
(Rupert Stadler, CEO Audi, Davos 2015)