How many drivers drive only by looking in the rear-view mirror – apart from when they are reversing?
Added on 19 May 2015 by Paul Griffith
We need to look forward to find the best route, to anticipate (and avoid) potential hazards and to scan the horizon for opportunities and signs of trouble.
Unfortunately, this forward focus is not always an approach taken by leaders who are charged with developing and driving business strategy.
We may be moving on from recent difficult economic times, but many leaders are still driving their strategy by looking in the rear view mirror – assuming that the future will be the same as the past.
It may feel like a less risky approach, but as the experience of many organisations has shown, in an environment of rapid economic, societal and technological change, it’s a poor choice.
So what are the three key steps leaders need to take to shift mind-sets and ensure a more dynamic future?
Ask yourself three questions and challenge your team to answer them individually too.
1. What percentage of your time is spent on external rather than internal issues?
2. Of the time looking outward, how much do you spent (%) on a view of the world in five plus years?
3. Of the time looking outward and forward, how much time (%) do you spent working with colleagues to build a deeply shared, well tested perspective on the future?
Multiply the answers together. Business school research on breakthrough strategies indicates that many organisations score less than 5% and consequently have poor insight into the potential future. If you want to improve future focus in the business, you need to make moves to increase your score.
Try tackling the questions below with your top team and think about whether you need to reconsider your approach?
Can you set a regular agenda item on your management meetings to address questions about the future?
Can you set time aside to reflect on external issues?
Can you spend time discussing important topics that may emerge?
Can colleagues in the management team set themselves a target to attend external conferences or seminars to gather information on factors that might impact on the future of the organisation? How can they share this data with the rest of the business?
Can you bring in external experts to deliver a seminar to stimulate your thinking or challenge your beliefs?
Can you bring in external facilitators to structure management discussions around the three key steps outlined here?
Road test these three steps and you will have made a good start towards shifting the business focus from the past and becoming fitter for the future.
You can find out more about how to put the latest thinking on strategy, leadership and change into action on our Senior Executive Programme (SEP).