Thinking Productively About The Future

By Wanda T. Wallace Ph.D and Stephen Newman


Asking the right questions today will allow leaders to be better prepared for — and even gain insights from — uncertainty.

If you are like most leaders, you were unprepared for the novel coronavirus and the disruptive impact it has had on lives, livelihoods, and business. You may have taken part in crisis management training, and you probably had scenario-planning exercises in place in your organization. Even so, we bet you were surprised, if not blindsided, by the pandemic, how fast the crisis unfolded, and what your leadership team needed to do as a result.


In today’s world of accelerated change, companies frequently will find themselves in situations in which they don’t know what is going to happen next. With so much uncertainty and few straightforward answers, it is easier to focus on near-term actions and “getting things done.”


Preparing for an unknowable future is another matter entirely, but it’s just as important — it can show you new opportunities and prepare you for potential disruption, which are both outcomes that can lead to greater success. But this kind of preparation requires a different mindset than the one that reacts to events; it needs a new set of practices that allow you to explore topics that are not yet important to your business.


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