At a Green & Tonic event this week, in discussion with Pater Madden of Forum for the Future, which is a non-profit organisation working globally with business and government to create a sustainable future. We got onto the topic of working with business leaders to help them make strategic decisions about what they want for their business. One technique we both use is to ask them to think about a time comfortably in the future and what they would like to see then. The benefit of this is that it allows them to step away from the constraints and pressures of today, to become clearer about who they are and the values they have, and to see what they need to do differently to be true to themselves. As you might imagine, this gets into areas that go well beyond "increasing shareholder value".
The thought that struck me is that the real point of the exercise isn't to look at a time that's distant, but to look at today in a different and deep way. And, I think most strategy work - particularly in today's unpredictable, fast-paced world - needs to be more about taking a deep look at where (and who) we are and what that means for what we should do now, rather than spending too much time peering into a future that most likely won't ever happen.