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  • Writer's pictureRapid Talent

4 easy-to-implement strategies to future-proof your organization

Why seeing the future is challenging.

To be a disruptor, you have to see the future, anticipate what’s next, and prepare for it now.

If you wait to see what’s happening and then attempt to adapt, it’ll be too late. You’ll get left behind.

That means seeing the future and future-proofing your organization are critical skills for leaders who want to succeed and drive disruptive change.

But it’s not easy because:

  • You want to be right all of the time, so you avoid the uncertain future and focus on immediate needs. You can’t predict the future with 100% accuracy. There will be issues you don’t see coming.

  • You need to make bets. Taking a risk and failing isn’t fun. But you never know what’s going to work out, so you must allow your team to gamble a bit, make mistakes, and fail. Eventually, you’ll learn from those mistakes, gain the confidence to make bigger and bigger bets, and reap the benefits.

  • You’re focused on today. We’ve all experienced a president or a board demanding more time, more resources, more people to solve problems. But when you’re so focused putting out fires here and now, there’s no capacity to think about the future.

4 ways to future-proof your organization

Yes, seeing the future is tough. But when you’re a disruptive leader, you don’t back down from a good challenge! Here are four shifts you can make to prepare for the future with enthusiasm.

1. Focus on future customers

Get obsessed with your future customers. Dive deep into who they are, what their needs are, and how those needs are evolving.

Then, do some analysis and scenario planning, thinking about all the possibilities and determining what it would take to solve these customers’ problems. Then, create a strategy to serve these customers even better.

If you’re unsure where to find your future customers, try the adjacent user theory.

Start by identifying people who, for example, created an account or signed up for your newsletter but never sign in or read your emails.

Ask yourself, “What could we change to attract them? What are their biggest concerns or complaints?”

You can also talk to your mildly dissatisfied customers. Ask them why they’re not completely happy and how you can better meet their needs.

Yes, you still need to pay attention to your current customers, but unless you make time for your future customers, you’ll never be able to predict the future.

2. Fine-tune your culture

If you want to future-proof your organization, look to your culture.

When people are invested in and understand what the future looks like, they’re more motivated to seek out opportunities to create changes to better serve future customers.

A great tool to drive this engagement is an empathy map – a description of your future customer and what they want, say, do, and feel.

Share the empathy map company-wide and get everyone involved in looking for future customers. Your employees will love participating in shaping the future, and the more people you have searching, the more opportunities you’ll have to analyze your future customers.

3. Make space for the future

One of the biggest mistakes organizations make is not taking things off the table.

They say, “Here are some possibilities for the future. Let’s pile these on top of everything we’re already doing.”

You have to recognize when things are obsolete and no longer serve you – and get rid of them so you can prioritize the things that will move your organization forward and shift your resources to support them.

If you leave everything on the table, you won’t make room for the future.

4. Change your relationship with the future

Most leaders prefer to stay in the present because they understand it and they’re afraid that not having answers makes them less effective.

But I challenge you to re-examine how you’re thinking about the future. Rather than viewing it through the lens of not having the answers, reframe it as asking the right questions.

Your job isn’t to have all the answers – your job is to guide your team toward the right answers.

Ask questions like:

  • How can we focus on the needs of our future customers?

  • How will this new innovation or idea help our future customers?

  • How will it impact our ability to serve them, understand them, and communicate with them?

Remember, the future of your company is your customers. The future of your organization depends on identifying them, serving them, and creating a culture that not only acknowledges the future but takes enthusiastic action to prepare for it today.

4 ways to future proof your organization | Charlene Li

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