By: Dr. Matthew Hurtienne
Please take a few minutes and reflect on how your organization responded to COVID-19. Maybe there was uncertainty, nervousness, or even fear of what the future might hold. Did your organization show traits of being proactive, innovative, and creative? Or was your organization in denial that the business needed to change to meet the new demands?
During the quarantine and initial shutdown, I had the experience of working with several businesses. Even though we saw a lot of innovation, we also saw a range in how the businesses reacted to the changes. One organization immediately jumped into the return and recovery phases. This organization was very proactive in planning to meet the new needs of its customers. Another organization refused to talk about any realignment and wanted to wait to see what the new economy would look like after its opening. There almost seemed to be a fear of reassessing their strategic priorities, as they were afraid of making a mistake.
Whether it is COVID -19, September 11th, or even political elections, organizations need to develop a culture of innovation and plan not just to just survive, but to live through proactive futuring.
What is Proactive Futuring
When we consider the importance of proactive futuring, we look at taking steps today that will help move organizations closer to the ideal future. In an organization that supports proactive futuring, you can quickly recognize that the entire organization is consistently working on future innovations and improvement. Through proactive futuring, you develop a culture that is nimble and able to pivot, no matter what forces the organization to change. Simply put, a leadership team that supports proactive futuring, are idealists; instead of waiting for the future, these organizations work to develop the ideal future and how they will be prepared for future needs.
Importance of a Vision
One of the significant challenges of proactive futuring is developing a vision that is supported by the organization. Teams and departments should work in alignment for the ideal future. Opportunities for innovation and failure should be recognized as a pathway to success. Taking the time to develop an inspiring vision of what the organization could become is a way to help employees to stay motivated about their work and their commitment to the organization.
Training and Development
An essential role of HR is helping employees, teams, and organizations to unleash their full potential. This is often achieved through training and development. Whether it is strategic planning or proactive futuring, neither are successful unless you engage your workforce. As you develop a culture that continuously looks toward the future and continuous improvement, the HR team will need to take the time to create a training and development plan this meets the new expectations of the future. This could range from developing new job skills to interactions with customers to shifting the way that the organizational members think.
Proactive futuring may seem similar to strategic planning; even though they are related, there are differences. In proactive futuring, you don’t need to constantly change your mission statement to stay current, instead, you consider spending your valuable time evolving to meet new expectations. This is important especially for the expectations that may not have been accounted for when the formal strategic plan was created.