Over the years we have appreciated and utilized the work of Dr. Daniel Burrus, in particular his best-selling book “Flash Foresight.” We quote “Flash Foresight” at the end of our latest book “Flow” on page 117:
Volatility is now the norm. Daniel Burrus in his excellent book, “Flash Foresight” talks at length about the necessity to identify and align with the clear hard trends of the obvious future. He says:
“Agility has been quite a buzzword lately in corporate circles … ‘the competition and the marketplace are changing so fast, everything’s is changing so fast, that if you want to survive, you need to be incredibly agile …’ In the twenty-first century, being proactive has outlived its usefulness. It’s too late to be proactive: we need to become preactive … Being proactive is agile; being preactive is being anticipatory” If you are only now becoming Agile, you are already too late because you are still reacting or pro-acting instead of preacting. We need to be predictably pre-active in a reactive world and to get there at a sustainable pace.
All of this is possible with Flow, the UVF, and concepts like flash foresight. It is a clean simplification of all that is required to achieve exponential, “Nehemiah Effect” results.
We finished “Flow,” prior to the release of Dr. Burrus’ new book, “The Anticipatory Organization,” or we would have quoted this book as well. He expands the idea of being preactive with an anticipatory mindset he calls “Futureview” on Page 102:
“…pulls people together by providing both clarity and focus around future goals and possibilities.”
When done correctly, our definition of Vision (which includes Cascading the Vision, Mission, Strategy, Purpose, Goals & Objectives — what we collectively call “Culture”) aligns with Dr. Burrus definition of Futureview. By coining the word “Futureview,” we believe he is seeking to overcome the inherent problems most organizations have with Vision informing tasks and everyday activities. Also, the concept of Futureview deals with the fact that most static Vision statements do not take into account the speed at which our world is changing.
We applaud Dr. Burrus’ attempt to name the problem with the creation of a new word. However, we believe that “Futureview” is simply a new descriptor of our our definition of Vision. A Vision that is properly distilled and communicated throughout an organization has the same impact and result Dr. Burrus is attempting to achieve by using the word Futureview.
The problem is not whether or not you call it Vision or Futureview, it is whether or not your True Vision is preactive and anticipatory versus static and/or functionally inadequate. Renaming Vision to Futureview, without proper communication, agreement and execution throughout the whole organization, risks producing the same old results, which Dr. Burrus shares on page 105 as well as in the introduction section:
“…an organization whose Futureview is not aligned is more reactionary by default — constantly reacting and responding to events and conditions coming from the outside in.”
“Moving exponentially faster in the wrong direction can prove to be a major problem or downright disastrous.”
As we shared above, our definition of Vision is expanded to include and encompass Culture. We agree with Dr. Burrus that a part of your culture needs to become and remain anticipatory.
We have found that transforming a culture, whether anticipatory or not, begins with a clearly defined and distilled Vision. Without distilling and gaining agreement at every level in an organization, any Vision for change is doomed to failure. Dr. John Kotter from Harvard has previously stated that:
“Most companies under communicate their visions for change by at least a factor of 10.”
We think Dr. Kotter may have underestimated the lack of proper and effective communication that is needed to facilitate organization change. Many organizations have in recent years have turned to Agile and Scrum as the current silver bullet to migrate from old-style management to high-performance. However, they find becoming “Agile” is difficult and not sufficient to achieve their goals. Dr. Burrus hit the nail on the head in his introduction to the Anticipatory Organization when he stated:
“Agility is valuable, but you will need more than that!”
This does not mean that migrating to an Agile mindset and adaptive culture is not a powerful and positive objective, but this requires more than methods and frameworks.
Around a decade ago, when Andrew first became a Certified Scrum Master (CSM), the Stacey Diagram was used as one of the tools used by his Trainer (CST), Michael James, to explain when to use Scrum or Agile methods. The Stacey Diagram was created by Ralph D. Stacey, Professor of Management, back in the early 1990s and it is particularly helpful for those making the personal transformation from Traditional Project Management and/or Waterfall to Scrum and Agile:
The Stacey Diagram is well known in the Agile community and it has served us well. It is a simple, elegant way to describe which tool is most appropriate based upon the clarity of requirements and the understanding of the technology being used.
The diagram is particularly useful because it visualizes the context. Anytime you can visualize your work or your problem and potential solutions it is easier to come to agreement and create a Vision and effective plan.
We believe the following visualization of Dr. Burrus’ work through the lens of Flow will be equally (if not more) useful for Flow practitioners and/or anyone using Dr. Burrus’ Anticipatory Organization (AO) Model. For those using the AO Model, you may want to substitute “High Clarity of Futureview” and “Low Clarity of Futureview” along the left side (x-axis) of this diagram:
Having the right Vision and the ability to execute your Strategy are core fundamentals of both Flow and the AO Model:
If you have a poorly defined Vision (or, even the wrong Vision) and are using a Traditional (Low Ability) approach to executing your Strategy, then at best you can only be Reactive.
If you have a poorly defined Vision (or, even the wrong Vision) and are using an Agile or adaptive (High Ability) approach to executing your Strategy, then you might be able to be Proactive or Preactive — but there is no guarantee that you are headed the right direction or will obtain the desired results.
If you have a really well-defined Vision (“right” Vision) and are using a Traditional (Low Ability) approach to executing your Strategy, then again, at best, you will only be Reactive.
If you have a really well-defined Vision (“right” Vision) and are using an Agile or adaptive (High Ability) approach to executing your Strategy, then you will most likely be Proactive and possibly Preactive.
Most organizations would prefer operating in the high, upper-right portion of the diagram, which starts with bullet point number four above.
In our experience, however, becoming an anticipatory organization requires creating and sustaining a state of high-performing Flow. We are adding Futureview to our toolkit and wish to thank Dr. Burrus for his insight and wisdom.
For those that are not familiar with Flow, it is what’s next for businesses and organizations that are ready to succeed regardless of the methods, frameworks or management tools that they use throughout their enterprise.
Are you ‘in the zone’ of optimal performance right now as a person, team or enterprise? Did you get there by accident or by focused intentional acts?
“Flow” gives you the tools and practices needed to create and maintain an optimal state of high performance as an individual, team or organization.
Flow methods turbocharge “business agile” leadership.
Our new book, “Flow: Get everyone moving in the right direction…and loving it”:
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Paperback release in April (pre-orders in March)
Andrew Kallman and Ted Kallman are the co-authors of Flow and the Unified Vision Framework. Their book, “The Nehemiah Effect” has been a #1 National Best Seller on Amazon.com in the US during six different months since it was published in February of 2014: