How to think about time

Photo by Icons8 team on Unsplash

Amy Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute, just shared the institute’s 2019 Tech Trends report, which includes more than 300 tech and science trends and 48 scenarios for consideration.

In the introductory remarks, they provide a summary of how leaders should think about time and plan for the future:

The organizations the Future Today Institute advises are always thinking about the future. But most often, their planning timeframes miss the mark. We observe teams stuck in a rut of three or five-year planning cycles. Many are reluctant to do any serious planning beyond five years. They argue it’s pointless, given all the technological disruption.

To effectively plan for the future, organizations need to learn how think about time differently. For any given uncertainty about the future—whether that’s risk, opportunity or growth—leaders must think strategically about tactics, strategy, vision and systems-level change.

Start retraining yourself to think about change and disruption to your organization and industry across different timeframes and build actions for each. The next 12-36 months – tactical actions. 3-5 years – strategic action. 5-10 years – vision and R&D initiatives. 10+ years – how you and your organization can create systems-level change so that you catalyze that change for your benefit.

The Future Today Institute’s 2019 Tech Trends report

12-36 Months: Tactical Actions

3-5 Years: Strategic Action

5-10 Years: Vision and R&D Initiatives

10+ Years: Systems-Level Change

Sometimes, when we think about planning horizons, it becomes either/or. Instead, this frame provides a helpful rubric for multiple levels of simultaneous work and thought to prepare organizations for future needs while acting on immediate opportunities.

The Future Today Institute’s 2019 Tech Trends report