TO MANAGE FROM THE FUTURE

In a world of growing complexity and uncertainty, it would be totally ineffective and vain to accept to limit actions to reproducing the past. Beyond mere administration, management becomes now the art of creating a different future by taking the commitment to transform an ambition into a new reality. For the manager, a new relationship to time is in order.

A sincere commitment to realizing a vision is extraordinarily powerful. With it, in all situations, managerial reflexes organize themselves according to this vision. Quickly and visibly, this commitment gives life to a different future as it allows the whole team to believe in it and to create a proaction dynamic converging toward the vision. This new relationship to the future represents, by itself, a new context for all activities, bringing a genuine cultural change. 

Let’s start from the present. For the manager, the present is a field of decisions and actions. I suggest organizing them in two major categories: reactions and proactions

The first category, “reactions”, encompasses all the decisions and actions defined by the past. Reaction to a procedure, to a production or service delivery planning, to a breakdown, to a customer complaint, to a request from another department, … And this list could go on. The main purpose of reactions is to execute a predefined task or to restore a deteriorated situation.

On the contrary, the second family, “proactions”, brings together decisions that take responsibility aiming at building a different future. The proaction essence is a sincere commitment to realize something that does not exist yet, to bring to life something that was first imagined as a distant possibility. 

I create my own context from the vision. Somehow: « I manage from the future. »

For the manager, it’s easy to devote his entire time to reaction. More than a temptation, this situation is perceived as a constraint, very often expressed by: « I would love to have time for proaction, but I have to run the shop… » Ultimately, reaction becomes an excuse, often unconscious, to stay into familiar territory. Obviously, there are and there will still be problems to solve, but the largest of all problems is when the manager accepts to stay caught in permanent reaction and does not devote a significant part of his time and energy, and his team’s time and energy, to build a different future.

Future will be the result of today actions! What I choose to do or not to do can be decided according to the past laid upon me, or according to the future I want to build. For a powerful improvement approach, we have to move from decisions and actions totally defined by the past and circumstances, to decisions and actions allowing a different future, bolstered by a vision.

This topic is developed in a book : « The Company Performance, a Love Story – Handbook for the 2020’s manager » ; published in January 2020.

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