During a recent meeting to discuss strategy with a client we made some decisions about, for example, the period of time for which the strategy will run. Not unusual of course but it brought to mind some thoughts that have been bothering me.
Some recent experiences and also some published surveys have made me realise that a five year time span from now will involve a rate of change in technology alone that will be far faster than anything we have previously experienced.
More to the point, unless leaders take on board the need to assess what these changes are likely to look like and how they will impact the business there may well be a dangerous gap in forecasting and actual performance.
Let’s look at some random recent experiences.
During this last week I was at the quarterly Vistage National Chair meeting staying at a hotel which is part of a global chain. In general the experience of the hotel was what one would expect; nothing exceptional, more than adequate accommodation and catering but no WOW factor.
Two occurrences stand out. On arrival I asked what was the procedure for accessing Wi-Fi and was immediately told that there would be a charge of £16.50 for 24 hours.
A colleague of mine who has a hybrid car which runs mainly on the electric drive asked did they have a charging point at which the reception clerk looked puzzled and said, no they didn’t.
We are in the 21st century if this particular chain hadn’t realised it yet and both of these requests are perfectly reasonable and becoming universal especially free Wi-Fi.
Simply because of these rapid and extraordinary changes (and there are many more example) forecasting for a five-year period becomes an entirely different exercise.
I am not proposing that we should all become futurists but at least we should take on board the likely changes and undertake some research to see what could possibly happen in relevant industries.
Above all, if you will be employing Generation Zs in the future (which you will of course), talk to them now because they will have a far better understanding of what is changing and how it could affect your company.
A little humility in this respect will bear fruit in planning the future of your business.
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