How to build a future-proof organization

No one is truly able to predict the future — so, how can we really be prepared? The reality is that there are already signals and portents that allow us to make educated guesses that enable us to leverage or mitigate plausible or probable developments. One of the most powerful opportunities is building future thinking competency in every level of an organisation; creating capacity for leaders who are curious, flexible and adaptable. During my podcast episode #25 of “The World-Class Leaders Show”, I interviewed Diana Wu David, noted work futurist and CEO/Board ‘whisperer’. Diana’s passion is helping people and organizations understand the future, to create inspiring futures that matter.  Diana’s background includes an eclectic mix of countries and clients across the world, as well as teaching at HKU and Columbia Business School in Asia. Diana is the best-selling author of Future Proof: Reinventing Work in the Age of Acceleration.

The Future-proof Tribe

For individuals, especially those who are looking ahead to their next transition beyond their primary career drivers, they need to develop ideas on how to engage in a community and participate in ways that nurture professional self-perception. As we get older, we need more and more connection and social interaction. We need to move beyond a job description to our own personal value proposition to maintain and build an independent identity. Experimentation gives you ‘stepping-stones’ to see where the path may lead. Pivoting to adjacencies and understanding reinvention will help senior leaders to build a portfolio career.  Forbes describes a portfolio career as “a working style where you combine multiple streams of income—often creating a mix of full or part-time employment, freelancing or working as a consultant.” This approach enables you to build focus and clarity on your values, and what contribution you want to bring to the world over the full course of your life.

Future Proofing for Organisations

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically accelerated the digital transition of the workplace, and the development of hybrid options for working. In terms of future work skills, self-management is critically important, as is the ability to collaborate. Leaders have been required to explore new questions: “How will the work get done? Who will lead it? How will we measure performance?” New decentralized structures emphasize the importance of clarity and communication around the fundamental purpose and strategy of the organisation. The changes heighten the impact of interpersonal dynamics within groups and increase the importance of trust and empowerment. Do you have the right circle of people, and are they all on board? How can a business be built with the right amount of decentralisation and autonomy, and still deliver high performance teams?

The Secret Sauce for High-Performance Remote teams

The best companies are experimenting and exploring how increased levels of delegation and trust can build motivation. By leveraging basic human drives like the sense of belonging, organisations can increase loyalty and contribution from extended groups of people. It’s also important to improve psychological safety and remove potential sources of anxiety — whether it’s over health concerns, job security or relevance. Another under-rated characteristic to foster within a team is a sense of curiosity. Retaining a high level of curiosity will lead to an increased sense of motivation and will increase the level of learning opportunities. Ultimately, this will result in a better understanding of what’s going to happen in the future and the best way to prepare to meet the challenges.

Insight & Questions with Diana Wu David:

Q. What has been the number one learning in your career? A. Taking small risks with tight feedback loops. That’s enabled me to go forward and pursue my curiosity and not hold back, with as little risk as possible. In that way, I’ve been able to double down on things that have turned out to be amazing. Q. What is one thing that you might have done differently in your career? A. I think I would have been more fearless. I was one of those people who did all the right things, and yet that still didn’t get me where I wanted to go. So, being able to break some eggs, to just go for it and not be quite so cautious. Q. What was in place at the time when you had your performance ever? A. Number one: clear vision. We knew where we were going, and I had autonomy to do it in whatever way I wanted. I had support available if I got stuck. And finally, I had a really good sense of humour. Q. What has been the most impactful book that you have read? A. The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity  by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott. I read it at a time when I was re-examining my career, and the idea that we could have tours of duty with sabbaticals in between gave me the leeway to do the things I really wanted to do in my personal life. If you’d like to contact Diana Wu David, see her work and download your free future readiness assessment at Online courses at  Purchase her best-selling book, Social Media Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: LinkedIn: if you have inquiries about my discussion with Diana or interest in knowing more, please send me an email at a[email protected] Listen to the podcast related to this article:  
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