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Create What You Need vs. Grow What You Have

Originally featured as post on the MarketingProfs Daily Fix site.
When times are bad the future is uncertain. But, quite honestly, when times are good the future is *just* as uncertain. The only way to predict the future is to create the future.

Here’s how…

One of the best pieces of advice on planning and strategy-building I’ve ever come across, I found in

The Unofficial Guide to Power Managing, (UK) by Alan Weiss, Ph.D. (not to be confused with MarketingProfs founder Allen Weiss).

When planning and creating strategy for the future, instead of starting from where you are now and working forward, start with a picture of the future and figure out what it took to get you there.

When you start from where you are today, you make the assumption that the people, tools, systems, and products will grow at the proper rate and in the direction of your ultimate goal. That’s a big assumption. Especially if your plans call for innovation, or changes from where you are now.

As Alan points out in his book, “The current organization’s mode of operating… been designed and reinforced to help maintain and solidify the status quo. Although there might be some flexibility, the new organization is now within its paradigm.”

Instead of assuming you can grow what you have into that future scenario, start with a picture of the future – working backward – to figure out what it took to get you there. Ask, “What must be changed to create this vision?”

If this is too abstract for you or leadership to imagine, do the exercise of writing a press release from the future. Write the headline and article as if you are at that 1, 5 or 10-year future state and the national newspaper has featured your success story on its front page. The details of “how you got there” IS your strategy.

This doesn’t necessarily mean everything that exists now – your people, your systems – needs to be scrapped. However, don’t start with the assumption that they are all you need… or will take you there without a planned approach.

“Do not start with what you have now. Rather, create the picture of the future, otherwise you will be constrained by growing what you have rather than creating what you need.” – Alan Weiss, Ph.D.

Graphic adapted from what appears in The Unofficial Guide To Power Management.

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