Anticipatory Leaders have three well-honed skills...
Futurist - A relentless fascination with the future.
Anticipatory leaders are incessantly curious about the future. They constantly discern how emerging social trends, technical and scientific innovations, political forces, legislation, environmental impacts and economic conditions might affect organizational possibilities and their insights are manifested in agile organizational strategies that create competitive advantage. They are visionaries.
Strategist - An ability to think systemically, both in terms of how forces outside one's organization are integrated in causal patterns to generate opportunities and threats and the interaction between these external dynamics and the internal functioning of one's own organization.
Anticipatory leaders understand the complex system of forces that drive current events. They are like seismologists: comprehending the deep structure of their own organization and the external economic, political and competitive systems in which their companies exist. They know the fundamental dynamics shaping the events and trends of their organization's life. They are system thinkers.
Integrator - An interpersonal skillfulness, enthusiasm, concern, empathy, up-beat energy that mobilizes and motivates others to do something great.
Anticipatory leaders orchestrate the organizational learning process. They design human systems that learn to use these forces to their advantage. They disseminate and deploy relevant external information throughout the entirety of their organizations. They possess the interpersonal competence to motivate, mobilize, and communicate. They are educators.
Anticipatory Leaders' sense of the future is so strong it is as if the future is alive in the present. This perspective allows them to open doors to new ways of seeing, hearing, thinking and feeling in a way that makes everyone else say, "Yeah. That's really cool. Why didn't I do that!?"
Anticipatory Leaders in any field share this ability with artists like Miles Davis or Georgia O'Keefe. Steve Jobs of Apple, Frances Hesselbein of the Drucker Foundation, Stan & Iris Ovshinsky of Energy Conversion Devices, Al Gore of CurrentTV, and Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines are all examples of anticipatory leaders. Knowing how to learn about the future, anticipatory leaders possess a deep advantage in an otherwise turbulent and confusing world.
Many leaders are so busy running the race, they don't see the enemy behind the next hill.1
Forward Focused Thinking
Leaders who are naturally curious about a broad range of developments that might affect their organizations in one, five, ten, fifteen, or even more than 100 years from the present are Forward Focused Thinkers. This orientation is relatively unique at the individual level, and it is even less common for whole organizations. Organizational leaders frequently “outsource” forward focused thinking to an internal strategic planning function or to consultants. Art of the Future convenes structured conversations among executives, managers and line workers to demonstrate that everyone is already thinking about the future, usually with a lot of creativity. These conversations inject the practice of seeing past the present into an organization's blood stream and make Forward Focused Thinking part of the organizational DNA. Paying attention to the Forward Focused Thinking that is always going on in an organization sets the stage for the organizational agility that is so needed as a response to inevitable change.
Art of the Future's Structural Dynamics process shows client organizations how to develop a comprehensive picture of future possibilities. Structural Dynamics is a disciplined approach to modeling the complexity around any mission critical topic. Unlike some scenario planning efforts which concentrate on the crafting of intriguing stories, Structural Dynamics explore the embedded connections and relationships between the elements of a system that cause today's events. Structural Dynamics displays the forces affecting any domain of interest in a coordinated network of interacting elements. Anticipatory Leaders who become skilled at Structural Dynamics know how to integrate the rigor of left brained systems analysis with the creativity of right brained storytelling to galvanize action at all levels of organizational life.
will be robust only as long as the environment in which they
exist fits very neatly
with their existing talents. Clay Christensen’s The
Innovators Dilemma is a virtual
catalog of organizations that did very well as long as the structural
of their context remained within certain tolerances. But, when
element of the system changed (for example, when the disposable income
demographic group grew while that of another shrank), the organization
didn’t anticpate the change and couldn’t master it quickly enough to
survive and thrive.
Human Systems to anticipate the future. They
of energetic, curious, and
learners. They buzz. They glow. Anticipatory Leaders are the bellows blowing
oxygen into these systems. They
design Life Sustaining Environments. They make it easy to have difficult
the power of integration to bring people together for
conversations that don't happen in most organizations. Improving
the quality of workplace dynamics is an example of this kind of
challenge: it's an issue everywhere but the people from different
functions are not called to focus on the subject. Anticipatory
leaders know how to convene
Because we understand
elements of a robust system, Art of the Future
them through our executive coaching
services, our training
programs, our event design
our facilitation services.
Art of the Future has published extensively on this subject. See...
1 Based on concept developed by Jean-Francois Manzoni, professor at INSEAD,
Note: Art of the Future’s ideas about robust human systems draw upon the thinking of Barry Oshry, Seeing Systems, Berret-Koehler, 1996