‘What’s the point of strategy when everything is changing so rapidly?’
‘I can’t believe people still try to predict the future. It changes too fast.’
These are common sentiments. Understandable ones too. The future is unknown and is changing rapidly. And yet, there are trends that can be seen. We may not know the detailed impact of those trends. And our guesses may be wrong, but we can still see the trends. Strategy forecasting is not fortune telling, it is about creatively imaging futures and different types of endings. In many ways, it is about relevance.
The trends we can see in the world we exist in point to a change, a shift in how things are, which will impact the business model our organisations. And rarely is there only one trend. Usually there are multiple and it’s the interplay between them which add complexity. And we have our roles, our status, our place in the market because of our existing business model.
Often the hard part of strategic conversations centre around the tension between short term gain and long term gain. And this isn’t just a tension in organisations seeking to make a profit for themselves and their shareholders. It is true for governments and non-for-profits too. Change makers and leaders understand that discussing what we need to stop now, even if it successful, is a critical conversation to maintaining relevance in the future. Even if it is hard. And because it is hard.
The downfall of most strategic conversations is the over-estimation of the change that will happen in the short term (a year or less) and under-estimation of the change that will happen in the long term (10 years+). This results in disgruntled comments like the ones at the start of this post.
What do you need to stop doing?