What excites me about foresight is the ability to create a space to explore, to create a strategic conversation beyond the day to day hustles of operations. But what is that exploration without organization transformation? How can we take the insights of foresight and produce long term change?
Scenario planning allows an organization to hedge bets to avoid the undesired futures and nudge towards the preferred futures. This is similar to risk management, where you look to identify ways to minimise the biggest risks and ways to maximise the biggest return. Risk management, the way I learned it at Stanford, occurred at the strategic planning level. But foresight, looks further into the future, explores bigger, and demands more than bets: it demands organization change to embrace to create the future.
How can I learn about this more? A search on Coursera and Edx.org came back with no promising classes. I found “Ideal of Organization Design” at Stanford University, but alas – no syllabus was available.
From an acquaintance from the Singaporean government, I learned about The Ready, an organization design consultancy in New York. According to Beth Comstock, Vice Chairman at GE, “when the way forward isn’t clear” The Ready shines through the way. Their Medium articles are excellent – everything from the idea of “Organisational Debt” to their OS Canvas.
I ask Professor Andy Hines, the head of the Houston Foresight program, for his recommendations on his favourite reading on organization design. I’ve designed my reading schedule around them:
- Van der Heijden, “The Sixth Sense” (November, currently reading)
- Heifetz and Linsky, “Leadership on the Line” (December)
- Gary Hamel’s “Leading the Revolution” (January)
- Senge et al’s “Fifth Discipline Fieldbook” (February)
I’m currently reading Van der Heijden’s “The Sixth Sense.” His other book on foresight “Scenarios: The Art of a Strategic Conversation” is what inspired me to get into foresight as a career.
What are your recommendations? What have you seen as great lessons in transforming a company? What frameworks do you find useful?
- Via Flickr, Kevin Dooly, “Puzzle“