This past Wednesday morning I woke at about 4:00 AM. My mind was working in overdrive considering all that needs to be accomplished over the next few days and weeks. I had the “to-do” list at my fingertips, but one of the things that was preventing continued sleep was this week’s newsletter. What could I write about? Normally by this point in the week the first draft is complete and I am in the refining process, but Wednesday I remained in bed trying to think of a topic. Usually there had been a conversation or something happened earlier in the week that lit the flame, but nada! I hadn’t anticipated this block. After a few desperate moments of trying to get back to sleep, I decided to get up, check the news and make some coffee. Once the coffee was ready, I opened my news browser and began to read. BOOM! It hit me. It was right there the whole time, I simply didn’t see it, but the music in the background and that familiar voice of Carly Simon made it evident, ANTICIPATION. The first verse says it all, “We can never know about the days to come, but we think about them anyway.” Well, what if we could know about them? What is we could create them?
Daniel Burrus, CEO of Burrus Research and a best-selling author of the forthcoming book, The Anticipatory Organization: Turn Disruption and Change Into Opportunity and Advantage raises an interesting point in his Forbes.com interview with Ron Carucci (Beyond Agility: How Your Future is More Certain When You Know How to Anticipate). Burrus believe agility is a valuable skill, however it is reactive. It simply enable one to react faster to disruption. He maintains that the challenge is to anticipate and take advantage of disruptions before they happen. How? Burrus suggests three major shifts leaders, their teams and organizations must make to become more anticipatory:
- Prepare for Trends You Know for Certain are Coming: What is already in the pipeline and how will it impact your organization? Will your organization be prepared financially for the associated costs (Ex. 5G Technology implementation). What will be the opportunities associated with these trends? By naming the hard trends we know are coming but we can’t change, and knowing their impact on the work environment we can prepare. This is an example of shifting from reactionary to anticipatory behavior.
- Make Innovation Everyone’s Job: In the Age of Imagination, innovation and creativity are two of the most valuable commodities a workforce can have. Unfortunately in many organizations there is a desire for homeostasis (Stability), and an expectation that disruption is uncomfortable. Organizations that accept comfort and legacy thinking thwart innovation. By encouraging everyone to adopt a future-focused mindset and proactively solve problems, transformation can happen at all levels of a company and all levels of innovation as well.
- Redesign Your Processes From “Protect and Defend” to Transform and Extend”: Rearview mirror thinking can become the source of entrenchment that makes change difficult to introduce and embrace. Unlike hard trends that reveal inevitable disruption, seek the soft trends we can actually influence before facing the negative repercussions of the trend.
Burrus believes that the signs, trends and evidence is out there. He concludes with a powerful statement, “True anticipatory leadership and thinking allow us to shift before disruption hits…….When you see the future you don’t want to be the one left out. When you know it’s coming, how do you not respond?”
Let’s also consider anticipation from a personal level. Steve Handal’s post, “The Power of Anticipation: What We All Need Something To Look Forward To” , provides some powerful suggestions on how each of us can use the power of anticipation to improve our lives on a daily basis. While not a magic pill, it becomes evident that anticipation has the power to energize us and help us get through the tough times. Handal opens with a truism, “We all need something to look forward to in life!” We all have those periods that are less than ideal. Having something to look forward to in the future can give us the motivation and persistence to keep moving forward during difficult times. So how is this accomplished? In it’s most basic sense, “anticipation” implies a future reward. The key then is to create new rewards in your life. Ideally the pursuit of the reward will help you build more discipline and motivation into an area of your life where you are experiencing difficulty. Some example might include:
- Looking forward to having lunch with a special friend, your spouse or member of your family.
- Getting everything completed so you can enjoy that one special TV show that airs one night a week.
- Making plans for a weekend you know you will enjoy to help you get through a tough work week.
- Treating yourself to that one piece of cake after achieving a dieting goal.
- Planning a special vacation.
- Looking forward to that quiet time late in the evening alone or with someone special.
- Planning a wedding with your finace’/finacee’
Some believe that anticipation is necessary to living a truly happy and satisfying life. Others say that anticipation is the stepping stone to hope. Regardless, we all need something to look forward to. Find something to anticipate this week, something that will make tomorrow look brighter, happier and give you reason to smile. Anticipate the good things to come in your life!
Embrace the Challenge!