Webinar: Be a Futures-Minded Innovator: Basic Foresight Principles for Businesses During the Pandemic

| By Sarah Jester

Save for a few public health experts, none of us could have seen what was in store for us this year. It is very difficult to predict the future, much less predict it accurately. However, practicing foresight work in your organization or company can help leaders to navigate difficult decisions as they meet new challenges and obstacles. Dr. Sarah Skidmore of Skidmore Consulting LLC joined the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce’s Webinar Wednesday program to explain just how this can be achieved. Here are NGLCC’s main takeaways from her webinar!

1. Especially during a pandemic, foresight helps us to develop stronger leaders.

Even in “normal” years, trillions of dollars are lost every year across the U.S. due to poor management and lost productivity. Dr. Sarah reports that employee engagement at work is low, and employees that are seeking professional growth opportunities within their organizations don’t always receive them. Leaders can help close these divides by modeling new leadership strategies and developing themselves as Stronger People Leaders. One of the most important roles a Stronger People Leader takes on is as a futures-minded innovator. By making decisions in the present context that are aimed at shaping the future, leaders can positively impact their business.

2. Practicing foresight techniques allows leaders to mitigate future negative impacts that can be spurred by events in the present.

According to Dr. Sarah, foresight allows us to use scalable methods, strategies, and tools to ideate and influence long term futures. In other words, making educated guesses about the future with certain resources in our toolkits can help us to better plan for whatever lies ahead. Some of these methodologies include employing a change vs. benefit analysis, or working with a Futures Wheel. Foresight practices may require external guidance from experts, but you can start practicing with these tools right now.

A change vs. benefit analysis is a futures-minded technique that allows people to consider potential impacts that could stem from one decision. You can consider these questions individually as a leader, as a team in a brainstorming session, or by bringing in experts to help you weigh potential outcomes. This process essentially involves asking a series of questions and weighing answers about positive and negative outcomes that could result from choices influenced by current or incoming events.

Similarly, a Futures Wheel is used to visually map impacts that may arise as a result of such an event or decision. The more perspectives that are involved in this process, the better - considering a multitude of outcomes will allow your team to fully consider opportunities and precautions to be taken. For more information on Futures Wheel, view the full webinar

3. Understand that the future is not random.

Stronger People Leaders know that the future is not random nor predetermined: they can strategize to maximize their own positive outcomes. By influencing their organization to understand possible futures, preparing strategies that can thrive in those futures, and implementing strategies to shape those desired futures, they can build a stronger business in the future that they visualize. It is important for leaders across the country to consider how COVID-19 is impacting their current context and organization, and how foresight practices might help them to leverage innovation within that context.

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Dr. Sarah Skidmore, DSL, MA is an Innovation Practitioner and Leadership Consultant, as well as the Owner & Chief Strategist of Skidmore Consulting LLC. Click HERE to read NGLCC’s spotlight on Skidmore Consulting.

The full webinar can be viewed here.