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Hardwood Executive 

Robert Tucker on Managing the Future

“Each year, thousands of organizational leaders head to the hills for an annual ritual: the strategic offsite leadership retreat. The purpose of such meetings, of course, is to get away from it all and strategize. To leave behind the quarterly pressures and think big about the future!

Designed well, offsite leadership retreats can be transformational events for the organization. The best ones build trust among top team members and create greater buy-in and alignment around a common vision of the future. Defensively, they can alert the group to significant trends and market developments. So, to steer your next offsite retreat in a bold new direction, use the retreat to:

‘Future Proof’ your organization
Request that everyone come with a list of trends they are seeing: technological, regulatory, societal, workplace, etc. This gets their juices flowing in advance, and alerts them to be ready to contribute to a different kind of offsite session.

Then, during facilitated open discussion periods, identify the most important emerging trends and explore what to do about or with each. When managers engage in exercises that cause them to wrestle with economic, consumer, lifestyle and technological trends, they often connect new dots, and discover exciting ways that trends can fuel growth and competitive differentiation.

Disrupt your Organization
Look at your products and services from the vantage point of the outsider. Ask the group where they would begin to attack it. Where are we most vulnerable? What problems have we not solved for our customers that might cause them to flee to another provider? What alternate business model or value offering (less for less, more for more, same for less, etc.) might attract our customers away? Disrupting yourself in this way helps you make tough decisions sooner.

Identify new Technology Directions
Spark fresh thinking in this realm by posing such questions as:
     - On balance, are we leading or lagging on technology?
     - Where do we need to enhance or transform our technology strategy going forward?
     - What customer problems do we need to take on?
     - How will this technology, if we adopt it, deliver greater value to our customers?

Focus on Innovation
If the rate of change outside your organization is faster than the rate of innovation inside your company, it’s time to take action. It’s time to figure out what needs accelerating. It’s time to shift from strategic planning to strategic thinking, which is ongoing, and needs to be part of the DNA. Use your retreat to open up new possibilities, to identify new markets and new revenue streams from existing capabilities.

It’s often been said that none of us is as smart as all of us. But that’s true only if we can tap those smarts. Imagine what might happen if you look at your next leadership offsite meeting, not as a “gotta do” ritual, but as a rare opportunity to encourage yourself and your colleagues to look, think and act ahead of the curve.”

Robert B. Tucker is a “global futurist and an internationally recognized pioneer in the field of innovation.” Visit www.innovationresource.com for the entire article.

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