This is our sixth trip to Japan. It’s easy to notice the little things that have changed: the new pot belly fireplace, a few more beers on the menu, new towels. We can cope with little tweaks. They keep us interested.
It’s the big things that are harder to see, and harder to respond to. Like how there seems to be even fewer people at the resort this year, and most of them of retirement age. The snow seems inconsistent too. Last year was really wet, the year before icy, this year it’s bucketing fluffy stuff (we’re pleased about this one!) Social trends like an ageing population or the volatility of climate change are harder to get our head around because they creep along, until they hit us with the inevitability stick. Before too long our favourite resort will just not be viable anymore: not enough patronage, and not enough snow. I wonder if the resort owners are thinking effectively about these change factors.
If they’re like many of the leaders I’ve come across, the answer is unfortunately ‘no’. One of the deep niggles that leaders I speak with confess is, “I find it extremely hard to create time out to make sense of these things, to really think strategically about what is going on around us, and to make plans to deal with what might be coming. The urgent burning fires of today are keeping me from thinking about tomorrow.”
Of course it is more than the culture of busy, time poverty, and an endless task list that gets in our way. Our Edge of Leadership UnConference keynote speaker, Dr Jason Fox warns us about the ‘delusion of progress’. We get busy ticking boxes and reaching milestones that we forget to look up and see that our inch by inch march is actually heading over a cliff. We get comfortable in business as usual and wrap ourselves in a blissful blanket of oblivion, what Fox calls ‘default thinking’.
Many leaders are missing three things:
1. Trends: A reliable way to monitor trends and changes that will have near and far impacts on their work
2. Filters: A useful process to make sense of these trends and create plans to respond before getting caught on the backfoot
3. Map: A strategic map to design short term and longterm interventions for their business, and for the business of their clients.
This is what I recommend to help siphon through the noise of internet and get clarity on big picture thinking:
https://www.shapingtomorrow.com/ - the most extensive and easy to use service that consolidates many trends in easy to read updates.
McCrindle.com.au - a great resource for being across social trends
http://trendwatching.com/ - for consumer trends
http://diamandis.com/ - Peter Diamandis - I loved his book Abundance and his summary notes on trends and why they are important are my single most useful way to stay on top of big global picture changes.
https://www.google.com/alerts - create a few key terms from your industry and have the curated articles sent to you daily or weekly
https://feedly.com/i/my - add key websites like WIRED, Science, Harvard Business Review and scan the headlines to see what pops
At the Edge of Leadership UnConference, we will go deep on Filters and the Map. Your leadership thinking will get granular, and we will tease out the most useful and practical thinking strategies for this year, and for the years ahead.
Make sure you cogitate before you agitate!
Don’t go blindly in to the year ahead, with assumptions and defaults blinding you to hidden opportunities. Make this the year you elevate your thinking and lead with eyes wide open.