The System Won’t Let Me12th May 2018
And other terrifying topics5th October 2018
It is somewhat of a trope, but when you Google ‘success’ and look at the images, most of them are of people ecstatically reaching the top of something, raising their hands up into the air, climbing mountains, or stairs, or staring up into the sky for even more inspiration.
Success is ‘up’ there, not because it means that success places you above other people, but because from up there, you can see clearer than you can down there. From up there, you have perspective. And perspective is essential to a worthwhile and solid vision.
When people ask me whether should spend time learning how to best think about and approach the future, when they have immediate problems to deal with, my first answer is always that the future gives us essential perspective.
Lets try a few examples.
You have a sales team that isn’t performing as well as you would like. Some team leaders’ usual approach is to remind them of their targets, point out someone who is doing well and try and make the others want to emulate that person, remind them of the penalties of not reaching the targets, or a potential bonus if they do. And then urge them, cajole, threaten, entreat, issue feedback reports and sales call records to complete to manage their sales.
Now if we had a future’s perspective we would first ask these questions - in conjunction with the sales team: Where is our company heading in the future? Will it survive, thrive or become withered and fade away? How is our industry evolving or being disrupted? Where is a particular salesperson’s role in the future of the company or the industry? How are our suppliers doing? Our customers? How are they evolving or being disrupted?
And then most essentially after we have gathered those data, we need to ask: How are we responding? What are our scenario plans for different potential outcomes? How do we invest in and help our sales people to gear up for these changes?
Just a little investment of thought and planning and responding with different plans, better and more appropriate training means that our salespeople now feel part of the bigger picture, the process, the plan towards the future. They are invested in the direction of the company and the industry, not just in the month end and quarterly results. They have a new perspective on what it takes to succeed.
China’s Belt and Road
Our second example is more global. China has a policy of expansion of business and political influence called the Belt and Road initiative, or more fully, ‘The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road’. They are investing in infrastructure, trade routes, and business from China towards Africa, Europe and other regions.
China’s government says that the BRI is “a bid to enhance regional connectivity and embrace a brighter future”. They are looking at the future and imagining where China could be positioned, and then building the infrastructure for that to happen. Where exactly are the investing? Well in building roads, rail tracks, ports, buildings, entire new cities are being planned and built along the roads, education, energy, satellites.
With such a grand vision of the future and an astronomically ambitious goal, China taps into the initiative and imagination of people in other fields and other countries, to support their plans.
The latest is, literally astronomical because they are launching new satellites into space to help improve connectivity.
From their first, beginner attempt at a simple device, to satellites that can now connect over a million people, China’s capabilities in this field have grown tremendously while the costs involved have not.
Small satellites are also now often thrown into business deals to manage some of the infrastructure issues related to a local requirement. Talk about perspective!
China’s vision for the future is so compelling that it drives growth, innovation, creativity, connectivity, and development. Regardless of how you feel politically or morally about the project, the simple audacity and scale of it is enough to change the economic and political landscape of the countries it deals with.
That is why we look to the future. It allows us to stand on a theoretical mountaintop, to survey the imagined path we took to the summit and then to get a healthy perspective of the issues at ground level. Opportunities that may be around the corner can be seen from the future mountaintop, but not from the in-time quagmire. Danger up ahead can be identified from a higher perspective and a new path can be chosen to avoid it.
Having a vision for your future is the best investment you can make for your business. Just maybe your sales team won’t make this month’s targets if you stop and take the time to work this out, but the chances of you making significant, healthy and profitable progress into next year, are almost guaranteed.
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