CEOs and leaders are in the business of making decisions.

Daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly decisions are routine. However, some of the most challenging are those that require anticipating five to 10 years in the future. These are the goals that most need a set vision and actionable paths toward them.

The lack of perceived urgency kills any inertia to plan for five to 10 years out. Why worry about meeting those targets, when today’s problems and this year’s goals are the most pressing thing on the agenda? It’s easy to put off thinking about your company’s direction and viability in five to 10 years, but what happens so often is that today turns into tomorrow, and suddenly, three years pass.

This defensive versus offensive mindset happens all the time.


Beating the defensive mindset

Developing strategies to thrive in the future is critical for the long-term success of a company. Simply having a long-term vision isn’t enough, though. A disciplined approach to future planning is essential.

A favorite book of mine, Lead From the Future by Mark Johnson and Josh Suskewicz, provides a blueprint for developing the vision and strategy for future planning. It guides CEOs in setting aside assumptions about the way things work today in order to sidestep the inertia and biases that limit the innovation necessary to be relevant in 10 years.

Further, separating the work into phases breaks down an intimidating process and establishes a framework that incorporates future planning as part of an organization’s culture. Phase I includes developing the vision by painting a picture of the future environment along with anticipating implications and defining the required future state of the organization. Phase II converts the vision into strategy. This is the time to identify growth gaps, walk the future back, and understand the investment that is needed to reach the future state.

Taking an offensive approach, such as future back planning, gives CEOs and business leaders room to make better decisions and stay relevant in an ever-changing environment.


Take the next steps

At 4A Ventures, we provide the advice, access, accountability, and action to turn your long-term goals into an actionable, offensive strategy.