Designing Your Future

Innovating the future of your organization

I went to a workshop this week on Designing Your Future led by Janet Stewart.  Janet called herself a “professional catalyst”.  ‘She works with people to help them figure out what they need to do to respond to the changes in their industries – she acts as the “catalyst” who gets things going and causes changes to happen.’  I really loved her definition of what she does because I think a good innovation team should consist mainly of professional catalysts – people that cause changes to happen. When people ask me what an innovation consultant does I usually say it is a combination of strategy, management consulting and change management.  That is way too many ‘managements’ for describing someone that helps set up an environment where changes towards the company’s future can happen. In many respects innovation consulting is being a professional catalyst.

Janet’s workshop on Designing Your Future was really interesting on a number of other fronts as well. During the session, the group looked at changes in the world environment from 1990 – 1999 and then 2000-2010. Finally, we looked at what would be happening in the next 10 years. The next 10 years included: rise in standard of living in third world countries, reduction in standard of living in the west, privatization of public goods such as energy and health care and government services, increase in consolidation of businesses, increase in the number of small businesses, workers traveling the world in search of work (with more international work done virtually), and technology will be a dominant driver of change.

The group then looked at their industry and workplace to see what happened in the last twenty years to forecast what will take place in the next 10 years.  For the telecommunications industry I thought the next 10 years holds globalization of communications and continued merger of communications and broadcasting. There will be much more breaking away from traditional ways of doing things (ie.  newer business models through increased competition and less expensive offerings for consumers as more  applications and services continue coming out that are closer to ‘free’). I also see more collaboration within and outside of organizations through public challenges and better relationships between companies and their vendors and customers. 

One of the interesting thoughts the group brought up projected  people wanting more face to face interactions rather than telephone and tele presence interactions which will lead to more localized industry segments, similar to the 100 mile diet movement.

A lot of the time when companies are looking to innovate they are looking at the future. Taking a look at the history of the industry can assist in seeing where and how fast the industry will move.  Where do you see your industry and your company in 10 years? What do you need to do to get there? Who are your catalysts that will work with you to make changes happen successfully?

What are your personal takeaways and action plans so that you get to where you need and want to be in 10 years?