Financial Planning | Leadership / Management

Top 5 factors that will define the future

Extreme_future The market is up. No, down. No, up. No, down. What do you make of all of this craziness?

We held a roundtable recently with a group of CFOs in the D.C. area, and the one thing they all agreed on was that nobody knows. Their views were cautious and they were concerned about the state of the economy. Unfortunately, I think this may just be our entry into the "new normal."

Welcome to the Extreme Future.

That is the name of a book by James Canton, Ph.d., that was recommended to me by one of our BLI instructors. I have been digging into it lately, and it has some salient points to consider.

Here are the top five factors tha will define the extreme future (quoted from the book):

  1. Speed: The rate of change will be blinding, comprehensive in scope, and will touch every aspet of your life.
  2. Complexity: A quantum leap in the number of seemingly unrelated forces that will have a direct bearing on everything.
  3. Risk: New risks, higher risks will alter every aspect of your life.
  4. Change: Drastic adjustments in your work, community and relationships will force you to adapt quickly to radical changes.
  5. Surprise: Sometimes good, sometimes difficult to imagine, surprise will become a daily factor of your life, often challenging sensibility and logic.

So how do you deal with this constant rapidly changing environment?

The author takes the same approach that Peter Drucker recommends: "You can't predict the future, you must create the future." Here are Dr. Canton's four steps to create your own future:

  1. Make sure you have a future vision, a clear vision of where you want to go.
  2. Have a sound strategy to get there.
  3. Get buy-in from key people -- teammates, colleagues -- to commit to the shared vision.
  4. Effective execution is key.

If you want more, take a look at Tom Peters' blog, where he calls recent events a "Black Swan" (another great read) -- highly impactful and improbabale events. I love the 44 Survival Tips in his post, The Black Swan 44: Tactical Rules for Survival (and Success) in Looney times. My favorites are No. 8 (Waaay over-communicate), No. 14 (Decency), No. 16 (Thank You), No. 26 (People First/ HR is King), No. 34 (Increase customer-service training) and No. 43 (Excellence, Now more than ever).

Strap on your seatbelts: I think we are going to be on this roller coaster for a long time.