Whenever I work with clients defining their vision I remind them leaders are paid to see the future, it is the unseen part of their job description. However, we also live with awareness that the future we see doesn’t exist yet; but we know it can, if we build it.
Do you know what is next for your business? If not, I would encourage you to think three years out – some refer to this as the tangible future. What do you want to be true in three years that is not true today? Without a destination, there is no way to establish a credible strategy and your business at best can only tread water.
What should three years out look like for your business and how do you decide?
Here are a few ideas to help you get started.
Start long term. Three years out may be a helpful time horizon but it is not long term. It is medium-term at best. What do you want to be true in your business in 10 years? Once you have clarity on the answer to that question, three years out merely becomes a milestone on a longer journey. If you don’t know your ultimate destination, waypoints are virtually impossible to identify.
Consider your options. As you consider the future, over the next three to ten years you can pursue many options. You can create new products, services or capabilities; you can enter new markets, develop new customers, and more. As you consider the future, don’t work from a limited view. Work hard to escape your current reality and say, “What if…?”
Weigh the costs. After brainstorming as just described, you’ll need to think about the resources at your disposal. Do you have the people and the financial resources to build your version of the future? I hope not. Yes, that’s right, I hope your preferred future is bigger than your current resources – if not, it’s probably not big enough.
Choose your destination. After reflecting on above, make the call. Define your vision and intentions. Share it with every one in the business. The details may not be fully formed, but don’t wait. As the picture becomes clearer in your heart and mind, you can update your story and tell it again. The more people you tell, the more support you can gain.
After you’ve chosen your destination, the fun part begins – you and your team have the opportunity to create the future you’ve imagined. But you cannot build what you cannot envision. Leadership always begins with a picture of the future. What’s yours?