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Create Your Future: The Power of Foresight

… “If we do not take charge and responsibility for what we desire in life, someone else or circumstances will do it for us…” Steven Covey

Summer is a few weeks away! Soon the rich luscious Kelly-green grass and the Marigolds, Lilacs, Asters, Hydrangeas, and Freesia will be in full bloom. The smells of barbecued foods will fill the air, children will be outside playing, and people will be out and about enjoying this wonderful season! We have the capability of envisioning summer and defining what it will look like in advance of its arrival. This is how we begin to exercise the power of foresight.

Many people began preparing for summer during the winter and off-season months. Department stores send their circulations of pre-season sales typically during a time when you’re too cold to think about the summer. However, what marketing executives understand is the power of persuasion and planning ahead. Marketing 101 teaches how critical it is to "plant a seed and create a need" in the minds of potential customers. This same principle works when planning for the future of your organization. For an organization to be viable, planning for the future is imperative.

So, what is foresighting? It’s the ambidextrous ability to function fully in the present on the one hand, while focusing and planning for the future with the other hand. Strategic leaders have the skillset of problem-solving, decision-making, engaging in daily operations and current crises while preparing for the anticipated needs of the future.

Here are 3 effective steps to help you begin to create the future you desire for your organization using foresight tools:

1. Vision planning- is a lot like the illustration about summer. You begin to experience what you desire in your mind, then you map out the vision before it happens.

  • Most leaders are visionaries. They have a unique ability to “see the end from the beginning” (Isa.46:10) and plan with the end in mind.

  • Strategic Vision is about possessing an ability to purposefully “see” in all conditions, this means, not allowing crises and circumstances to derail your vision for the future.

  • This competency is critical for leaders if they want to sustain their organizations. Vision planning allows preparation for uncertainty and ambiguity.

  • Visionary leaders are always thinking and planning ahead for what’s going to happen in the future. In fact, these leaders often schedule designated time to shape the future they desire for their organizations.

Vision is less about the ability to see with the natural eyes what is at hand and more about perception, insight, and foresight. Vision gives purpose and direction. It functions like a roadmap. Roadmaps serve a purpose to provide guidance and help us reach our destination. Just like a roadmap, organizations need a strategy to help it reach its destination. It helps organizations fulfil its purpose. One reason companies fail is due to lack of direction or unclear vision. What’s interesting are these two points:

  1. Either an organization has a strategic roadmap and don’t use it or

  2. The organization doesn’t have one.

2. Environmental Scanning -The key for strategic vision planning is an iterative process that will adjust as the external environment changes. I’m referring to the PESTLE (political, economic, social, technical, legal and, environmental) analysis. Visionary leaders enhance their ability to “predict” the desired future of their organizations through staying abreast on what's occurring on the horizon of their industry.

  • Following industry trends and using the PESTLE framework for scanning or surveying the environment positions you, the leader, to more accurately determine the necessary resources for accomplishing organizational goals.

  • We want our companies to thrive, not barely survive. We’re not talking about using some magical, mystical acts to predict the future of our organizations, but we are talking about using tried and proven tools that are used to impact the future of our organizations.

3. Strategic Planning - Everyone functions with some type of strategy to accomplish their desired outcome. We want to have a successful day so we: wake up, we pray or meditate, we read motivational books, articles, we say affirmations/ declarations and then proceed with our day. We all do a series of various things that will guide us and help keep us on track. Many of the steps we take are calculated so that we maximize the time spent doing them to successfully reach our goal. For example, some of us have a goal of living a healthier lifestyle. To accomplish this we take steps such as changing our eating habits, exercise more, increase water intake, reduce sugars,etc. No less of an effort should be given to running an organization. A leader needs a strategy for the organization to endure. Without a plan, you have no clue where you are going and you’re unclear where you’ll end up. You and your team will quickly lose momentum and eventually, your organization will perish.

  • A good strategic plan becomes great when it’s executed. (click to Tweet)

  • According to the Balanced Scorecard Collaborative (2008), 90% of organizations fail to execute their strategies successfully and 95% of the workforce do not understand it.

  • These statistics reveal an alarming crisis among leadership and organizations. Many contributing factors create such gaps. However, the most common culprit is the organization’s culture.

  • Culture is King! It’s incumbent upon the leader to establish and maintain the culture of the organization so the strategy is carried out.

Navigate your organization by being a strategic leader with a strategic plan. Vision planning, environmental scanning, and strategic planning are critical steps to take prior to business planning. Begin with a vision of the future, create the plan and work your plan (yes… that’s more than a cliché). Hundreds of organizations drive in the dark focused only on what's happening now and clueless about where they are going. Add value to your team, to yourself and your organization through knowing where you’re going and how your going to get there. Recognize the season your company is currently in and determine when it’s time to change seasons, in advance. Enjoy your summer and get ready for autumn!

Dr. E. Michelle Mickens is CEO of Live 4 Change, LLC

Live 4 Change, LLC is a global strategic sustainability consultancy. We serve our clients through leadership and organizational development and we work with leadership to help create a (CSR) corporate social responsibility strategy that will enhance your sustainability efforts and optimize operational efficiency. Want to learn more? Click the link @ live4changellc or .Schedule a free consultation

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