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A General Consensus on the Future Will Get You Nowhere

There are many ways of looking at the same thing. Views depend on who is doing the looking, and what perspective, discipline, and/or paradigm is used.

Take the concept MURDER.

Different people look at “murder” differently. For example, A crime scene investigator will take photographs of the body, the weapon, the surroundings, the victims clothing, and other items in and around the scene. In art, there is a famous painting (above) of Jean-Paul Marat, a French politician, assassinated in his bathtub by Charlotte Corday, his political enemy. The picture records a historical event, but a priest would say it records a sin. A biologist would describe the effects of a puncture wound to the body, while a writer would write a “who-done-it” and perhaps sell a script to a producer. Marat’s family would probably view his death as a tragedy, a revolutionary might proclaim his death a victory and Corday a heroine.

One idea, many ways of looking at it, all correct.

It’s preaching to the choir, yet in matters of the business future, something we tend to forget. When we think of business goals, all of a sudden we want to limit views to ours, have everyone in the same picture.

In the present, we have multiple concepts and goals already. Just ask your co-workers: How’s business, and you’ll know.

So, how’s business?

“We’re ten percent behind our sales goal” is a very different answer from “Well, my new CRM system is three months late,” or “Our market share is down five percent,” or “Really my biggest challenge is getting the team to come together.” Yet these answers can be given by colleagues on the same day.

People don’t have to agree on one business agenda to be able to work together. The only thing they share is the responsibility that they will show up and do their part of the deal well.

And the further we look ahead, the larger the discrepancy in views becomes. So general consensus will get you nowhere. However, you do need a common story for all to relate their personal view to.

The great thing of future scenarios is their layered, complex nature. The scenarios tell possible and probable stories of future business environments in which your company has to thrive. Within those stories, the roles above are all included.

When you’re working on the future mission, vision, and strategy of your business, it’s good to realize the various roles in play. All those roles need to find new meaning in the future. The more detailed the story of your preferred business future is, the easier co-workers can find anchors to latch onto. Instead of having a one-dimensional mission and vision, you’ll have a concrete, yet multifaceted and inclusive scenario.

PS. You’ll be a more effective change manager if you’d be able to map the different views on change and find their common threads. Take (one of the) concrete, future goals. Put this in the center of a think-flower (as the one above). Put the most important players in the leaves. As you go around the leaves, think about the various ways people think about the goal you’ve chosen and record your findings.