III. The Art of

Thinking Ahead: Agility

in Envisioning the Future

From the introduction, you understood that we look at agility holistically - at
the organisational level, within teams, and at the individual employee level.

In Part I. Empowered by the Past: Agility Ingrained in the Corporate Culture and Part II. Strong in the Present: Agility Around the Human Experience we shared inspirational examples and easy, practical tools for integrating agile practices at all levels of an organisation related to culture and experience.

Now let's do the same about envisioning the future!

Stagnation is one of the worst fears for so many modern organisations. In today’s dynamic reality, human beings expect novelty at every corner, so innovation becomes vital to every business’ stability. For more innovation to happen in the world, one must think ahead of what’s already here and now.

Thinking about the future has gained more and more acknowledgement in recent years, making its way into organizations’ strategy & design units across industries. And as Professor René Rohrbeck and Deloitte’s consultant Ménès Etingue Kum suggest in their research, there is hard evidence that corporate foresight is directly linked to becoming an outperformer in an industry, attaining superior profitability and market growth.

A cool example of how future thinking helps companies stay ahead of their market is Stora Enso’s bold strategic leap - from being a leader in a decreasing paper production market to completely changing its portfolio to renewable materials and sustainable packaging production, following emerging global trends.

If you are not familiar with corporate foresight, here’s some ideas on how to incorporate it within your organisation.

How does it translate in your teamwork?

Moving from the here and now and towards the future requires a clear and aligned view of where we want to be. Oftentimes, in the midst of an intense project, we get stuck into the burning issues, losing sight of the big picture. Here’s a few useful practices to help your team not lose perspective:

  • Always start with the strategic intention to keep everyone focused. We choose to talk about intention, rather than goal, as it conveys a more collaborative and dedicated approach to putting our efforts towards a shared vision of the future. Here’s how you can articulate your intention as a team. Make sure it is actively framed and time-bound.
  • regularly scan for signals of change that could impact the direction you’ve set out for the future. Sensing potential trends or external change factors early on does not only safeguard your vision from becoming obsolete or irrelevant, but also shifts your perspective towards bolder, more creative horizons and nourishes a growth mindset within the organization.
  • Visualize progress tracking to have a transparent instant overview on current status, upcoming milestones, potential bottlenecks and delegated responsibility. Use one of the many project management tools available and amplify across all team members by compiling a project overview roadmap, scheduling regular team meetings and synchronizing team calendars.

How to incorporate it in personal life?

It doesn’t matter how good the team's intention for the future sounds if it doesn’t touch you on a personal level. Giving yourself the space to appropriate it will help you see unexpected possibilities for upskilling and development, which can uplift your team and bring a deepened sense of purpose and meaning to your work.
Moving towards a better future is an iterative process, which can bring a lot of unease and uncertainty. These are the 3 steps that will help you stay centred and driven whenever you are faced with change:

  1. Start by connecting with your intention for the future. Think about what the intention means to you. Try to flesh out an image in your head using all of your senses. When the image is strong and vivid, pick one or more elements from it, that can easily make it reemerge and insert them around your workstation - this may be a vision board that you put next to your desk, a picture that you glue on the first page of your agenda, a song that you turn on at the beginning of each workday, a perfume with a meaningful aroma… anything that anchors you to that future you are striving towards.
  2. Accept that in order to move in a more meaningful direction, you need to let go of the path you were on until this moment. Here is one practice of letting go you might want to try.
  3. Get ready to face the inevitable uncertainty. Even though on a logical level we know that putting ourselves in uncomfortable situations aids our growth, our subconscious self is trying to avoid such situations. You cannot escape it - the only way forward is right through it. Here you can find some practices that can help you keep going.

Closing remarks

We hope the above tips and examples have proven to you that agility is, beyond any doubt, a quality and skill crucial for surviving our intense days and thriving in our glorious futures, although it has been overlooked recently.

Remember that results come when practices are applied regularly, whether they are individual, team or organizational. Consistency and repetition translate into sustainable routines that bring about many benefits - both mentally and physically.

Making agility a habit for yourself and your peers at work is the way to becoming ever more adaptive, flexible and resilient to change, yet always authentic to your identity.