The most surprising insight most organizations get about their future from futures scanning is not knowledge of a new trend or issue; it is confronting their own unwillingness to act on what they already know about the future.
These scans rarely shock leaders, because they work hard to stay informed and have many opportunities to hear what the best thinkers in their field believe about the future. My best scans amplify the significance of key change drivers, mute the less important trends and issues, and give people a better way of understanding and talking about what is at stake.
The power of these future scans comes from transforming trends and issues into the story of their future. Stories move us, even when they are disguised as well researched and cited reports. Change leaders know how to move these stories into their organizations. They use them to inspire strategic plans. They retell the best parts of the story to counter resistance to change.
I no longer take exception when leaders thank me for a great scan and then in the same breath say but, “We’ve been talking about these strategic issues.” I simply point out the value of having a powerful new tool to help make the case for change. It is fun to watch them take these scans and run hard straight into candid strategic conversations, overdue decisions and new directions.
A good futures scan is simply a shock of insight that can get the entire system humming with the possibilities for a preferred future.