The scariest change on your horizon is the one that you don’t see coming. The problem for most of us is that we are so busy taking care of the seemingly urgent stuff on our calendars that we don’t stay on top of the changes that will transform our lives.
For instance, did you know that Kinze Manufacturing in Iowa is developing a driverless tractor that will handle plowing and harvesting? Imagine what that will do for the small farmer or even agri-business in general?
And, you may not have heard of Suneris, a Brooklyn-based company that hopes to transform the way we stop bleeding. We’ve relied on direct pressure, stitches, and cauterization for centuries. But the company’s new product, Vetigel, not only stops bleeding but helps the wound heal. The company says that the product can stop bleeding in a wound to the femoral artery in less than 20 seconds compared to traditional methods which take about five minutes. The life-saving implications boggle the mind.
Driverless tractors or a plant-based wound closure product may not mean a lot to you today, but they will. And even if they don’t directly affect you, there are changes on the horizon in your industry that will. You will be left behind if you don’t know about them, and more important, you can position yourself to thrive if you do.
So where is the time for your own personal research going to come from?
Let’s take a look at your calendar.
No … seriously, stop what you are doing and pull up your calendar. I’ll wait.
Your calendar is the true test of what is important to you. How much time did you invest over the past month thinking about the future and where your company, industry, or profession is going?
Don’t feel bad if the amount of time is small or nonexistent. Mark Ellwood, president of Pace Productivity Inc., reported that only 2 percent of managers in his studies report any time spent on long-range planning that affects the future.
Thinking about the future doesn’t require a great deal of time, but it does take commitment and discipline. How are you going to change your team’s perception of change if you can’t anticipate it for yourself?
Incremental improvement is the goal. If you are starting at zero, set a target of 15 minutes per week if you are a frontline leader. Keep working until you can get to 30 minutes per week.
Target 5 to 10 percent of your time for actively thinking about the future if you are a mid-level leader. The best senior leaders with whom I have worked devote 30 to 40 percent of their time on future related activities.
The professional journals and bloggers in your industry is a good place to start, but push yourself to go further. Look for the newest technology, design trends, and people pushing the boundaries in the arts and culture. Then ask, “How could this affect me?”
The changes and competitors that will influence the next 10 years of your life are being created today. Look around and learn. Your success depends on it.