Envisioning a Future as Trusted Strategic Advisors

One hallmark of great professional associations is their work to collaboratively envision and proactively help shape the future of their professions.

I wholeheartedly agree with this first sentence from the foreword of the National Investor Relations Institute Think Tank on the Future of Investor Relations report. Studying drivers of change, the NIRI think tank concluded the profession faces a disruption opportunity to renew and revitalize.

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Great Risks Beyond Our Imagination

We should fear most the risks we cannot easily imagine, and in complex systems, the greatest risk may be responding to long-term risks with short-term solutions.

That is a key lesson from Michael Lewis’ 2018 book, The Fifth Risk, although the lesson is almost overshadowed in this absorbing account of what the Trump Administration does not understand or wants to dismantle within the federal government. Lewis observes that people are good at reacting to the last crisis and not so good at imagining the nature of the next great risk.

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Intervening to Shape a Better Future than Americans Imagine

Associations that want to lead in shaping the future can glean great insights from a 2019 Pew Research survey asking Americans what they imagine their 2050 future will be.

While optimists have a slight edge in the overall findings, survey respondents project many of today’s fears and concerns onto their expected future. This dissatisfaction points to opportunities where associations can lead by offering pathways to a preferred future

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