There’s something to be said for focusing on the here and now. But to say that you can only control the present is a shortsighted view of business management. Smart leaders are equally focused on how they can prepare for the future.
The Marks of a Forward Thinking Company
As a business leader, you have no choice but to focus on what’s in front of you – the demands of the present command your attention and energy. A failure to invest your time and resources into what’s unfolding right now will cost you any chances you have at success. However, you can’t channel all of your energy towards what’s going on in the present. You also need one eye glancing towards the future.
Present-day business decisions need to be strategized and executed with a future-oriented mindset. It’s the only way to succeed now, while purposefully setting up your business for continued success down the road.
The problem is that most organizations lack an understanding of how to proactively look towards the future without compromising what’s unfolding in the moment. But don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. We’re going to explore a few of the smart steps today’s most successful business leaders are using to prepare for tomorrow. Take a look:
- Exploration Over Protection
The traditional approach to management is to find a competitive advantage and to protect it at all costs. In some organizations, that’s the primary bent. All decisions are made through the filter of not letting the competition get a stronghold.
But a future-oriented company thinks differently. Instead of resting on what’s happened in the past, company leaders are looking to find other competitive advantages to add to the organization’s arsenal. It’s about moving forward and exploring, rather than investing in the protection of a competitive advantage that may one day become worthless.
- Prescriptive Analytics
Today’s future-facing companies are using data and analytics to paint a picture of what tomorrow may have in store. In particular, they’re relying on prescriptive analytics.
As datapine explains in this blog post, “Prescriptive analytics tries to see what the effect of future decisions will be in order to adjust the decisions before they are actually made. This improves decision-making a lot, as future outcomes are taken into consideration in the prediction.”
- Diversified Revenue Streams
While most companies have revenue models that follow the 80-20 rule– i.e., 80 percent of revenue comes from 20 percent of the products and services – this doesn’t stop future-facing organizations from constantly trying to diversify their revenue streams.
Diversified revenue streams make a business more stable. Each revenue stream is like another pillar or support beam underneath the organization’s foundation. By proactively adding new products and services, these companies lessen the likelihood of collapsing under the failure of a single revenue stream.
- Development of Human Capital
Forward-thinking business leaders don’t see employees as manual labor that clock in and clock out. Instead, they view people as integral to the success of the future business. In response, they focus on developing human capital and preparing employees to take on more responsibility and leadership in the years to come.
- Scenario Planning
Future-facing companies spend a lot of their energy strategizing about how to tackle issues and challenges that may crop up one day. In particular, they invest in what’s known as “scenario planning.”
“Scenario planning is making assumptions on what the future is going to be and how your business environment will change overtime in light of that future,” business strategist Jeremie Mariton writes. “More precisely, scenario planning is identifying a specific set of uncertainties, different ‘realities’ of what might happen in the future of your business.”
Moving Towards the Future
There’s no possible way to predict what will unfold in the future. Even if you spend years preparing for a particular scenario, there are always independent variables that could impact what happens. But proactive business leaders and future-facing companies aren’t worried about controlling the future. Instead, they’re determined to be prepared for whatever comes their way.
As you shape and mold your own business, it’s important to focus on the present while strategically preparing for the future. In doing so, you’ll inevitably move into tomorrow with a firm foundation upon which you can grow for years to come.
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