Planning the never ending story is a never ending job. C-corporations in the US can technically live forever, but few do. The economic crises was a great reminder of the value of building strong healthy organizations that provide a lasting legacy of good quality jobs for generations to come. Avenues to self-renewal include:
Building a Workforce Pipeline
Identifying and Acting on the Right Risks
Actively Forward Thinking
Read on for additional details for each avenue below.
Historically, focus has been on leadership succession planning and there isn’t anything wrong with that. My concern is that the rate of change is occurring so fast that organizations that fail to have a workforce development pipeline in place for every position in the organization may find themselves without the capabilities that they need at any given point in time. More than ever, the benefits of promoting from within will come into play for organizations that
Hidden Asset Tip:
recognize the need for preparedness.
Never lose sight of the fact that your employees have more capabilities than you hired them for, some in areas that you never dreamed of. One print based advertising agency developed a highly profitable video and TV advertising line of services after one employee, with an active interest in theater, developed a video based solution for a prospective client. [Source: Army of Entrepreneurs]
The Right Risks
Self-renewal (adapt or die) requires that we continuously scour the landscape in search of opportunities, identify the right risks, and redeploy resources to continuously adapt to the changing environment and customer needs more quickly than the competition.
In an organization where the right circumstances (risks) have been defined in advance and opportunities are evaluated using a proven decision making process, an organization is far better equipped to place an individual or a series of “bets” that can dramatically alter the organization’s growth trajectory.
The key is defining those circumstances in advance so that you can take definitive action, without hesitation, when opportunities arise. Being prepared is far better than flipping a coin or going with your gut and then losing the farm…
Simulations and forecasts are just a small part of planning for the future. Another avenue is futurecasting. The idea behind futurecasting is to envision and shape your organization’s future based on known (early stage) advances and reasonable foresight, no crystal ball required. It takes an open mind though.
Professional futurists offer lots of insight that companies can draw on for planning purposes. Regardless of your area of interest, there are people around the world analyzing the future impact of that topic.
Don’t think you have to figure it out on your own. Use technology (Google Alerts or aggregator apps) and get everyone involved in tracking avenues that can benefit your organization.
How to Incorporate Futurecasting into Meetings
A simple way to incorporate futurecasting into your organization, regardless of size, is to set aside time, as a part of regular meetings, to raise just one of many thought provoking questions such as:
- What is the most significant change on the horizon in our industry?
- Predictions say the next big thing will be ____; how will it affect us?
- The time when ___ is approaching. How can we take advantage of it?
- What advancement in technology will turn our business upside down?
- How will the obsolescence of ___ impact our business now or in the future?
For example, in a January 2014 McKinsey Quarterly article entitled “Next-shoring: A CEO’s guide” they talk about locating manufacturing operations in close proximity to demand and innovation. As technology continues to transform manufacturing operations, and wages and purchasing power rise in developing nations, they will lose their lower labor cost advantages making offshoring (as we know it) a thing of the past. We’ve already seen some manufacturing returning (referred to as “reshoring”) as wages rise in emerging markets.
How would a change like that affect your company? Being on top of information like that can provide an opportunity to leap frog over your competition. Are you ready for something like that?
It doesn’t have to be a big deal, just raising awareness so that everyone has their antenna up watching out for opportunities and risks is enough to get started while staying within the boundaries of your resources. Just avoid getting blindsided out of existence. If it can happen to Kodak and Kmart, it can happen to anyone.