By Jim Whitt
While speaking at a meeting in Australia I shared the platform with Steve Tighe, a future strategist. This was in the fall of 2008, which coincided with the “fall” of 2008 when the economy collapsed.
Keep in mind that many major corporations and financial institutions were so totally unprepared for this free-fall that their only salvation was a taxpayer bailout. The devastation was so severe that the economy still hasn’t recovered. How and why did this happen? Part of the answer comes from a recent article Steve wrote entitled: Time to Slow Down:
“For many companies, it’s their limited perspective of time and space – their focus on the here and now, and ignorance of the there and then.
“We obsess over minutes, hours, days and weeks, whilst paying scant regard to years and decades.
And here lies the source of the problem.
“This short-term, blinkered approach to time and space is leaving businesses vulnerable to the vast amount of change that is building just outside their scope of vision.
“When it does arrive, this change inevitably catches them by surprise, disrupting existing plans, and forcing a company-wide panic mode. This ensures the perpetual need for speed, and so the cycle continues…
“So how do you break this cycle? How can you slow down time?
“By broadening your perceptions of time and space; extending your planning horizon, and widening your scanning sources.”
To be prepared for the future you can’t just think about the future you have to think in the future. Steve Tighe accomplishes this by taking clients on a virtual tour of the future. I use a process I call Pioneering.
We should be thinking in generational time frames. If you go 30 years into the future, take a virtual tour of what it might look like, then plan your way back you’ll have a much better idea of what to do instead of starting from the perspective of what the world looks like today and trying to plan your way forward.
It’s not just business that suffers from the short-term, blinkered approach to time and space. Governments around the world are on the verge of collapse because of an unhealthy addiction to the here and now. We just witnessed the debt ceiling deadline debacle in the U.S. This is nothing new. The debt ceiling has been raised 75 times since 1962. The reason for this is because the focus in Washington extends only as far as the next election. Right now that focus is Tuesday, November 6, 2012.
Yes, we are in panic mode, perpetuating the need for speed and so the cycle continues. What will the world look like in 30 years? If we are going to survive — let alone succeed — as organizations, as nations and as people, we are going to have to change our focus from the here and now to the there and then. If we don’t, the there and then will look a whole lot like the here and now — only worse.
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