Streetwise: Futuristic Thinking: An Important COVID Skill

August 14, 2020

From our friends at Eure Consulting:

This week we’re going back in our blog archives to highlight a skill that has become more important than ever during the roller coaster that is the COVID pandemic: Futuristic Thinking.

We define Futuristic Thinking as imagining, envisioning, projecting, and/or creating what has not yet been actualized. All it boils down to is your ability to anticipate, or dream about, what the future might hold. A skill that can really set you and your company apart during these uncertain times. Great futuristic thinkers are always contemplating what could be. What does the future hold and how can we try to better understand it in the here and now?

When we originally published this blog, we noted that everyone in an organization doesn’t need to have highly developed Futuristic Thinking. Instead believing that the skill became more and more important as you rose through the ranks and took on more and more strategic planning duties. And then COVID hit. And now we know that Futuristic Thinking is immensely valuable no matter the level of the organization.

Those who are skilled in Futuristic Thinking have no trouble brainstorming the possibilities that could be right around the corner. They look at the current landscape and are able to project what the next steps might be. They don’t get stuck in the weeds, but rather focus on the bigger picture. How will their actions in this area affect those around them? They are great at anticipating new trends and patterns not seen by others.

Futuristic Thinking takes commitment. It can’t be done in five minutes here or there, it requires you to take stock of current issues and trends and try to connect the dots on the bigger picture. What will today’s actions mean for tomorrow? You have to be able to step away from the attention of the immediate in the here and now and let yourself get lost in thought about what could be, something that is not easy for humans in general. It’s hard to do, but it can help you be so much more intentional about your actions and your future. A skill that is even more important in today’s world.

If you’d like to become a better futuristic thinker (which you should), you can start by brainstorming more. For every challenge, problem, or decision that you face, let yourself brainstorm not only different ideas for solving them, but also how those solutions will impact the future. What does each path look like in 1-2 years? 3-5? Think through the follow up and follow through of each of your options. What will the consequences be? Thinking a couple steps ahead can help you avoid many of the unintended consequences that often arise from quick decisions.

A lot of businesses have stopped trying to predict what’s coming around the corner and are just taking things one day at a time. If you can help your company envision what the world will look like in the future, even if it’s just six months down the road, you’ll give your organization a huge leg up.