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Future Proof Your Organization
by Craig A. Anderson
Article from Global Insights
June 2004

leading you down a slippery path toward inflexibility, sloppiness, and a lack of vision.
leading you down a slippery path toward inflexibility, sloppiness, and a lack of vision.


With the coming of the cicadas (at least here on the East Coast) it may be a good
time to hatch another type of brood, a series of actions to "future proof" your
organization. A "future-proofed" organization is one that has the resilience, flexibility,
and creativity to thrive regardless of the whatever unforeseen changes the future
holds.

Sounds good. So how do you "future proof" an organization that is running 100 miles
per hour trying to keep up with the very visible challenges of the present time!?  Our
suggestion: bring the future into your organization now. Here are some strategies in
each performance area:

Leadership
Revisit your vision to ensure it conveys the values you will need to succeed in the
future. Communicate and over-communicate your vision. Ensure that you have a
strategy locked in place to develop and select the right kind of leaders in the years
ahead.

Strategic Planning
Revisit the core assumptions you have built into your planning process. Challenge
and test your view of the world. Bring smart outsiders (e.g., competitors, customers,
stakeholders) into your planning process.

Customer Focus
Give your marketing a tune up. Rethink your future customers? How will they be
different from your current customers? What expectations will they have that you can't
meet today? How will you adapt?

Information Management
Conduct an objective analysis of your internal "lifeblood"; i.e., the flow of information
around your organization. Get some confidential insights. Abolish barriers. Start
measuring the return on your knowledge investment, e.g., the effectiveness of
training and development (too often an unmeasured "black hole" in an organization's
budget).  

Human Resource Focus
It is hard to say anything here without sounding like a cliché. Your employees,
partners, colleagues, etc., will ultimately determine your capability to thrive in a
changing future. Test the assumptions your organization currently holds regarding
how best to recruit, select, hire, train, develop, supervise, and motivate your
employees/partners. Don't settle when it comes to your most important resource:
your people.

Process Focus
The questions lead to the answers: How do you measure innovation in your work
processes? How do you increase the rate of organizational learning? How do you
ensure the work you do is aligned with the most important needs of your customers?

Get after it. There is no better time to start "future proofing" your organization than
right now. P.S. The future also applies to the non-work aspects of your life.