Going forward but looking backwards – a recipe for disaster #strategy

When I was in charge of organisation development in a major company I had to undertake exit interviews when staff left our employment.

I can still remember one young employee, one very good at his job, telling me he couldn’t work for his boss anymore. He explained it was like sitting in the back seat of a car with his boss driving but looking out the back window of the car rather than the windscreen.

A little more research told me he wasn’t making it up. I moved his boss into a new role and put someone in charge of those staff who could lead.

So what is the story here?

Well, in this fast paced changing world you can’t be someone who is looking out the rear window. Sure it has some lessons you can learn but don’t spend too much time there, just use the rearview to seek predictable patterns, particularly from more mature markets! You need to be future ready not past wise.

Being future ready means searching out innovation and innovative ideas, collaborating with colleagues and peers and testing theories and models, particularly with your customers.

Testing means destroying mind sets and challenging sacred cows. Testing means looking at new business models, new markets, new entrants, new pricing structures, resource failures or constraints, partner failures …………… Lots of looking up the road asking what if?

As the great blues guitarist BB King sang, “You better not look down if you want to keep on flying, put the hammer down, don’t look back”

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