You Either Build the Future or Sink in the Past

Raise your hand if you believe we live in turbulent times.

If you keep doing the same thing in turbulent times, you’re irrelevant.

in a turbulent presnt old strategies sink the ship


The meaning of big change efforts:

Every organization that needs a “major change effort” has leaders who waited too long to make change.

Radical change means you’ve been out of touch with reality too long. You’ve been hoping the past will return to validate obsolete strategies and methods. It won’t.

In a turbulent present, old strategies sink the ship.

Self-justification, explanations, and excuses are attempts at justifying past behaviors, systems, and processes that lost effectiveness long ago.

Someone needs to shout, “It’s not working,” before the ship sinks.


Confirmation bias makes you believe you’re on the right course when you’re sinking.

Change is first about the character of leaders. Arrogant leaders don’t change.

#1. Profound humility.

Humble leaders care about building the future. Arrogant leaders protect the past.

Arrogant leaders hope past strategies will start working again. But trying harder – at the same thing – when you’re stuck – makes you more stuck. 

  1. Honor the past, then read it’s obituary. Flawless execution of irrelevant processes won’t help.
  2. Humility enables brutal honesty. Worry more about change than protecting your reputation.
  3. Humility allows leaders to evaluate organizations based on purpose, not financials.
    • Why are we here?
    • How are we fulfilling our purpose?
    • What are we doing that distracts from the reason for our existence?

#2. Forward-facing curiosity.

“Denial puts the work of renewal on hold.” Gary Hamel

  1. What new strategy or technique might we test and assess?
  2. How many alternatives can we design to replace current strategies?
  3. Where might we run a pilot program?
  4. How might we invest in the future?
  5. What is the future calling us to do? To become?

In the words of Tom Peters, “Try stuff.”

What might leaders do to build agile teams and adaptive organizations?

How might you adopt new ways to build the future this week? (In small ways.)