Foster Frequent Forethought for Smart Strategic Thinking

In the New Normal, smart strategic thinking requires FORETHOUGHT that is deeper, broader and more FREQUENT than ever before.

THINK TOGETHER: Foster Frequent

The Bar for Forethought Is Rising 

When circumstances can change in the twinkling of an electronic eye, Forethought is essential. This is a well-known fact. The world’s foremost experts on leadership, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, have found “Forward-Looking” to be rated as a top leadership characteristic for over thirty years.

So Forethought is not a new issue. What’s new is that the BAR for Forethought is RISING.

Forethought must now be more frequent because the rate of CHANGE continues to accelerate. What used to take months and years now occurs in days and hours. That means that what is true today may not be true tomorrow. Your assumptions should not be taken for granted. Strategies must be continually reassessed.

The confluence of rapid technological change, interwoven financial markets, and increasing competition creates unprecedented challenges for leadership decisions. This confluence of change also compounds the consequences of our decisions. That’s why Forethought must be broader and deeper than ever before.

Forethought_Faster, Deeper, Broader Thinking

A Brief History of Forethought

The Greek gods, according to the ancient myth, assigned two brothers the responsibility of putting life on earth—Epimetheus, whose name in Greek means Hindsight, and Prometheus, whose name means Forethought. Epimetheus went first and populated the earth with all the animals. Then it fell to Prometheus to create man.
Forethought_The First Gift o Prometheus_lelandrussell.conPrometheus saw that his brother had given the animals all of the powerful physical attributes.  He asked himself, “What gift can I give to mankind?”  Prometheus realized that man could prevail against more physically powerful adversaries only if he could outthink them; thus his first gift to mankind was Forethought–the capacity to think ahead.

What are the Benefits of Fostering Forethought?

Forethought yields many benefits. For example, when you think ahead you lower the possibility of being blindsided by something unexpected. When you anticipate problems, you don’t end up wasting time later with after-the-fact damage control. When you recognize opportunities early and seize them quickly, you reap the most rewards.

But the most important benefit of Forethought is the opportunity to be first to the future. This is a compelling competitive advantage.

Think about it. Who was the first person to walk on the moon? Neil Armstrong made that one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. Who was the second man to walk on the moon? Most people don’t remember.

Foster Forethought with Collective Intelligence

Given the nature of the New Normal, thinking ahead is critical. But it is easier said than done.

We are bombarded by so much about what’s going on, it’s hard to know where we should be going. The volume and complexity are overwhelming. In fact, it is nearly impossible for an individual or small group to have a complete perspective of the Big Picture.  That is why we need to expand the circle of participation and tap Collective Intelligence.

Collective Intelligence is the result of LISTENING to and SYNTHESIZING a broad spectrum of ideas, views, and opinions to address a complex challenge. It delivers deeper insights and smarter solutions than an individual or an elite few could produce.

Forethought-Putting Puzzles

How to Thrive in the New Normal

Given the complexity and tempo of change today, thinking ahead is an essential job of leaders. By fostering Forethought, you lower the possibility of being blindsided by something unexpected. You are better equipped to anticipate problems and recognize opportunities early. You can be first to the future and reap the rewards.

Three “Forethought” questions to consider:

  • Do you think ahead frequently?
  • Do you aim for first-mover advantage?
  • Are you tapping Collective Intelligence?

Three additional Think Together articles:


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About Leland Russell

Leland Russell is the co-author of Winning In FastTime®, a highly-acclaimed book about leading strategic action. He delivers the best ways to strive and thrive in the New Normal, serving clients as a Strategic Advisor and Leadership Coach. GEO Group Strategic Services, the consulting firm Leland founded in 1991, has a stellar track record with Fortune 500 organizations, mid-size firms, and non-profits. GEO"s typical clients are leaders and mission-critical teams.

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