Future me benefits when current me acts thoughtfully. Before a trip, I might make the bed with fresh sheets, clean, and leave a reasonable supply of food for my return. Current me might unpack my bag completely and leave items in easy-to-find locations so future me can pack without stress for the next adventure. Current me can wax skis, clean bikes, dry out muddy running shoes, place new batteries in the headlamp, and repair a small leak in the tent, so future me launches with a higher degree of success and enjoyment.
What actions and decisions can your current team make that would set up the future team for a higher degree of impact? How often has a topic or barrier been raised that never gets resolved, knowing it will ultimately be decided once it is an emergency (burning platform)? Have you served an organization that inherited disruptions that could have been avoided by the team that proceeded your tenure? What if your gift to the board/staff/members that follow is to wrestle with the obstacles they will encounter? Even if we cannot make definitive progress, we can leave a record of how we tried to iterate and what succeeded and failed.
My hope is that current you assumes a force for good mindset so future you can focus on the work that matters.
Do the details add depth, dimension, or distraction to your journey? Do the activities engage you in a slalom, a barrier, or a brute force exercise? Do you see the individuals within the cluster, or are their commonalities so blended that they all appear the same?
We must make snap judgments and assumptions to navigate our daily wanderings. What is worthy of further evaluation, and what do we navigate in subconscious mode? One of the benefits of encountering a place from multiple directions is we might find a perspective that benefits from further investigation and comprehension.
What trip wires and circuit breakers have you established to be indicators of danger ahead? Are these signs easy to follow or obscure and challenging to comprehend? If they resonate, embed your self-interest in evaluating whether to proceed or return to find a more reliable path forward.
If you had just ten photos to take during a week-long trip, how would you decide when to snap one of these precious images? In the age of digital photos, we take multiple shots without consequence unless our storage capacity is limited or our battery life is at 1%. But our mindset changes when a natural or artificial limit governs our activity. Looking at a recent adventure, I have deleted at least seventy-five repetitive photos, poorly framed, out of focus, or unintentional. It cost me little but some editing time. However, I am hard-pressed to select my ten favorites from the trip, a challenge to cover the highlights and iconic moments.
A powerful outcome of design thinking is generating numerous ideas. Creativity and multiple mindsets allow for expanded horizons and innumerable pathways. There is a moment when we must select a limited course of action. A portion of strategic planning includes this moment of refinement. I refer to it as an ‘energy management plan’ since we only have so much capacity to focus our resources. If you had to select three areas of focus, what are they? If your three areas are raising more money and funds, I suggest those are the results of focusing on the work that matters.
I am handing you a virtual Polaroid camera. What images are you hoping to capture if given three photos to take of your organization’s strategic future? Do they capture the superpower of the organization where you are uniquely positioned to act or are they a wishlist of certainty (endowment, waitlist of potential board members, and everyone in the community is a member of the organization)?
The Tui is a remarkable bird found in New Zealand and Australia. It has two voice boxes, creates a distinctive call, and can toggle between high and low variants in its song. In addition, it has a white tuff of hair on its throat that’s purpose is still being researched, an evolutionary puzzle yet to be solved.
The Tui is a symbol of the dedicated skill required to blend tactical and strategic perspectives into conversations. The strategic establishes the background and horizon line, and the tactical places the activity and focal points. How might we fuse these two framing elements into a narrative that is accessible and provides additional clarity?
How do we make time for play within our work, travels, and life? Based on research, it may represent the highest form of humanity and is essential to our evolutionary process. Animals find unstructured moments to play while balancing other vital responsibilities. However, we tend to schedule everything but play into our work plans. What if we asked how might we find more time to play? How might that change our priorities and our perception of our priorities?
What if we ride off the map? What if we explore places that we just encountered in the territories ahead? What if we let the road/trail take us somewhere? Does it increase the journey’s value or diminish our experience?
Sometimes it is not until we ask the right questions that we consider all the opportunities and challenges. Like wearing a headlamp during a hike. We do not always know what we might encounter. When illuminated, objects grab our attention that we might otherwise pass without notice.
Somebody had to figure out how to put in the first path. Then it the trail was updated and perhaps improved. Maybe another individual found a better route. Eventually, a group decided to construct a road. It was not easy, but now buses, cars, and cyclists pass without considering the obstacles.
What paths have you blazed or improved? What is their impact? Does anyone notice anymore? If they are well-designed, perhaps the purpose is not to point out what was near impossible during construction.