Envison the Future You Want – Preferred Futuring Insights from the TRIAS conference at IBM Research
Preferred Futuring is a way to engage everyone in the system to be able to communicate with each other. Communication is basic to operate an organization effectively. Dr. Lawrence Lippitt, author of Preferred Futuring outlined the paradigm shift from the traditional problem-solving methods for creating change at the Trias Conference Leadership for the Future from November 9-11, 2011 at the IBM Zurich Research Lab. The orientation moves from focusing on a problem and fixing it, to focusing on exactly what future situation an organization want and taking action to get there.
The Underlying Philosophy of Preferred Futuring involves the approach that every individual has the freedom to choose his own future. In groups or organizations, it means that everyone is part of the transformation process. Research has shown that coming together as a large group stimulates creativity, innovation and motivation towards a changing action.
The alignment of large group of individuals with common direction, generates widespread support, put targets for improvement focus and link vision to action, while having a definite team-building or community-building effect. With the creation a collective preferred future. Everyone in the organization will end up wanting to share in the process, because they participated, and because the desire for something better is engraved deep in our souls.
The Basic Steps of Preferred Futuring
Preferred Futuring has eight basic steps, which needs to be understood and then employed systematically for linking Vision to Action for Results in Whole Systems:
- STEP 1 HISTORICAL REVIEW HOW DID WE GET TO WHERE WE ARE TODAY?
- STEP 2 CURRENT STATE WHERE ARE WE NOW?
- STEP 3 VALUES & BELIEFS WHAT ARE OUR CORE VALUES?
- STEP 4 EVENTS, TRENDS & WHAT DO WE NEED DEVELOPMENTS TO ANTICIPATE?
- STEP 5 VISION WHERE AND WHO D0 WE WANT TO BE?
- STEP 6 STRATEGIC TARGET WHAT DO WE NEED TO RESULTS DO TO GET THERE?
- STEP 7 ACTION PLANS HOW WILL WE GET THERE?
- STEP 8 DO IT WITH FOLLOW HOW WILL WE SUSTAIN UP SUPPORT THE EFFORT?
This flow links the mission, strategic vision to action for real time, deep and lasting results for the whole system. In reality it is not a linear process but cyclical as are most things in living systems.
Be an effective Change Leader
Larry Lippitt shared his advice in being an effective leader in a video interview to the IBM Team while visiting the Lab:
“Because when you listen to that truth, suddenly things change. You have to try to understand the other person through their own eyes. Something magical happens when you’re able to work together and communicate with each other and this enhances the leader’s ability to have empathy.”
Preferred Digital Future
The encounter with Larry inspired me to further develop the idea of the tweakfest. The tweakfest was a festival that took place from 2004 – 2010 in Zurich with the objective to motivate the 2’000+ visitors to prepare for the information society and let the 300+ interdisciplinary specialist from the Creative Industry network, learn and discuss the visionary findings from avant-garde media artists, technology researcher, creative multimedia designers and digital entertainers.
I am convinced that the tweakfest approach in letting people tangible experience a digital future by the creative use of Live Communication will work for Corporate Transformation Initiatives too. Together with other examples of innovative formats such as the TED’s Ideas Worth Spreading, Ebay’s Hackathons and the Co-Creation of Strategies like IBM did with the Innovation Jam, had lead me to the development of the new ‘Collaborative Future’ Offering. I am already curious to apply a digital enhanced version of Larry’s methodology.
“TWEAKS are small modifications intended to improve a complex system”