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Why is foresight so important to leadership?

All the best leaders have a vision of where they want their organizations, or teams, to be in the future. It is those visions that drive the success of an organization, or a team. Not realizing the vision can also lead to less than success, perhaps failure, perhaps just not quite achieving the dream.

Two points to make here. One is to make that vision explicit so that people in the organization can attach themselves to it. The other is to create the structure that will enable everyone to explore forward and understand how to make the strategic changes that the leader’s vision will need if it is to be fulfilled. #1 is about communication, #2 is about foresight.

In part one, a leader has to do some thinking and talking to clarify his or her vision and how it is to be communicated to the organization or to the team. Part two is about acquiring and using the tools and skills of foresight, so that the organization, the team, and the leader, can think and plan beyond today to achieve that future vision everyone now shares. Those tools and skills can be as simple as asking in a weekly meeting, “what’s new that we should be paying attention to?” or more complex, such as scenarios of the future that explore alternative options. As long as they help the leader and his or her people understand their preferred future better and be empowered to create the direction that will take them there, they’ll do the job.

We can help leaders, and their organizations or teams, acquire those skills and tools. We know that foresight often gets pushed aside in the urgency of today’s crisis. Our goal is to make sure that vision and foresight are so built in to the organization’s culture that its leaders and its people always ask: “what are the future consequences of this decision today? Does it take us where we want to go?”

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