20/20 visionary

It’s not uncommon to see experts in virtually every industry prognosticating and predicting about what the next 6 months will look like, or the next year, or even the next 5 to 10 years. But those detail-oriented forecasts miss the point a little bit. While it’s always important to think critically about what the future holds—and to make informed, strategic, and calculated preparations for the future—predicting with precision exactly what tomorrow will look like is actually far less important than simply asking the question. In other words: when you make a specific prediction, you run the risk of getting it wrong and costing yourself time and/or money, but if you instead commit yourself to the process of regularly considering about what tomorrow will bring, you will be better able to prepare your business for any eventuality. Anyone can make a forecast. Not everyone is prepared to adapt and evolve swiftly and successfully to a changing professional landscape.

What do we see on the horizon? What is changing? What is coming? What are we preparing for? While we don’t have the answers, we still need to ask them. Whether you know the “answer” or not, it is important to recognize that these questions are not rhetorical: they are intended to get you thinking critically about your business, and about how you are positioned and prepared for what’s around the corner.

This process helps you focus on whether or not your company is prepared for inevitable changes in the marketplace. It gets you thinking about essential questions like “are you flexible enough to make big changes when necessary?” and “will you be able to recognize those changes when they begin to happen?” These are the kinds of questions that should be regularly discussed at a strategic/leadership level. Understand that while a prerequisite for success tomorrow is success today, anyone who thinks that their current business model is going to work indefinitely is kidding themselves. You will not be able to continue to be successful by staying where you are at now and doing things the same way. So ask those tough questions, and remember: don’t predict—prepare.

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