Time Travel Audit: Find Success Now and in the Future

You don’t need a DeLorean for time travel. For example, you can visit remote parts of the Amazon River and meet people who live just as they did a thousand years ago, using blow guns and spears as their current technology.

You don’t need a DeLorean for time travel. For example, you can visit remote parts of the Amazon River and meet people who live just as they did a thousand years ago, using blow guns and spears as their current technology.

Even here in the U.S., you can visit Amish towns in Ohio and Pennsylvania, where people live just as they did merely a hundred years ago, getting their water from a well and using oil lanterns for light. For them, a horse and buggy is their Tesla Model X.

This same kind of time travel also occurs in business. You can time travel at organizations in your hometown that use legacy technology and antiquated techniques. These legacy systems may keep such businesses alive and well in the rapidly vanishing past, but surviving the present will become an impossible task.

Time travel is also possible between divisions within an organization. For example, the engineering department may be equipped with the latest technologies while HR is still using paper files and longhand forms. Today, you can even go from person to person and be time traveling, as some people are so past-oriented that the past is all that matters — to them, and the future is foreboding  … and therefore inferior.

Fortunately, you can also travel to the future. The individuals in your organization who buy the latest gadgets with their own money in order to experiment with and learn from them are already living in the future.

Some organizations are more future-oriented than others, even in same or related industries. For example, the manufacturing industry has moved into Industry 4.0, while its construction counterpart has been slower to adapt and change. And some leaders in every industry — Apple being the most notable — roll out products and services consumers never knew they wanted, yet find to be indispensable once they have them in hand.

This mindset is what I discuss in my best-selling book The Anticipatory Organization. By paying attention to Hard Trends that will happen, savvy organizations like Apple are able to become more anticipatory and to turn disruption and change into opportunity and advantage.

If you are ready to become an Anticipatory Leader at your organization and help lead it into the future, consider taking these three steps:

  1.   Do a time travel audit of yourself and your colleagues. Where in time do you and your colleagues live? Who is future-oriented, present-oriented, or past-oriented —  and how are those outlooks serving the company? Remember, while you can look at the past and learn from it, it should not hold you back. Your windshield is larger than your rearview mirror for a reason. To drive safely, you need to keep your eyes focused on the big picture in front of you and only occasionally look back. 
  2.   Turn past thinkers into Anticipatory Leaders. Some people in your organization may be past-oriented and dread the future — but their experience and wisdom are still incredibly valuable. You can either choose to let such people go, and lose the valuable assets they possess, or turn them into Anticipatory Leaders by placing them in roles that suit their personalities. Encourage them to enrich their perspectives by asking them what they believe is vital for the organization to keep as it moves forward in order to thrive. This question forces them to consider both the core capabilities that got the company to where it is today and the Hard Trends that are shaping the future of the industry. Overall, this approach positions your past thinkers strategically based on what they like doing and helps them become more anticipatory. 
  3.   Relate to others at their point in time. Do a time travel audit on the people you interact with. If you have a new product or service that is future-oriented, but are talking to someone who is past-oriented, leading with your future perspective will frighten him or her. You can’t force individuals into the future; you must transition them into the future. Relate to their position in the past; acknowledge why they are comforted by where they are, the technologies they use, and the principles they’re working under. Help them understand the Hard Trends that are the undeniable truths about the future, and in this way walk them slowly into that future instead of trying to shove them into it. Remember that many people are naturally timid about stepping out of their comfort zone, so be careful not to place blame. You’ll be more likely to succeed if you can help them see that change is the only constant and that we all must adapt in order to thrive.

The Future Is Yours

Years ago, it was possible to have a past or present mindset and still do quite well, because the pace of change was relatively slow. But now, technology is moving at the speed of light, transforming everything we’ve come to know. As an Anticipatory Leader, you must migrate your people and your organization to become anticipatory as well. Remember, time doesn’t move in reverse; it is always moving forward. Help everyone in your organization to see the future, embrace it, and thrive in it to ensure long-term success.

Think about the actions you can take today to personally or professionally move toward the future. Read more about performing Time Travel Audits to Elevate Communications in my latest book The Anticipatory Organization

Future Insight: Changing the World with an Anticipatory Mindset

We are at a unique point in human history, marked by accelerating global change and enhanced by technological advances. We are always doing the impossible. Agile organizations learned how to change rapidly, but with change accelerating, we must go beyond agility and learn to anticipate disruptive problems before they happen.

We are at a unique point in human history, marked by accelerating global change and enhanced by technological advances. We are always doing the impossible. Agile organizations learned how to change rapidly, but with change accelerating, we must go beyond agility and learn to anticipate disruptive problems before they happen.

A New Incentive

With over 500 known cycles that repeat, such as biological cycles, celestial cycles and business cycles, and predictable linear changes, such as the retirement of aging Baby Boomers, there is a way to anticipate many of the problems we will have and pre-solve them before they happen. The good news is that there is a growing global supply of young, anticipatory minds paying attention to the Hard Trends with an interest in changing the world, now with a new incentive for them to anticipate ways to shape the future positively.

In celebrating its 350th anniversary in 2018, Merck KGaA of Darmstadt, Germany, pioneered the Future Insight Prize to stimulate groundbreaking science and innovative technologies for the benefit of humanity. With a targeted 1,000,000-euro grant, the inaugural Future Insight Prize winner of 2019 will be announced in July, marking the first of many prize winners over the next 35 years that both stimulate and honor achievements in science and technology key for humanity, namely health, nutrition and energy.

The Pandemic Protector

The 2019 prize will be allocated in the field of pandemic preparedness, for work in anticipating a later realization of the visionary dream product coined as the “Pandemic Protector.” This breakthrough product begins with a clinical sample of a person infected with an unknown pathogen and produces an agent for cure or to prevent infection of others within a short, clinically relevant time frame. Researchers and entrepreneurs know we must anticipate, pre-solve and change in new, innovative ways in order to stay ahead of this problem.

First announced at Curious 2018, the first Future Insight conference, the event had more than 60 speakers, including six Nobel laureates, and was attended by more than 1,300 leaders from academic and corporate environments from all over the world. This announcement drew in more than 70 top scientists to the Future Insight Prize jury, collaborating to select the first year’s prize winner.

With antimicrobial resistance threatening the effective prevention and treatment of an always-transforming range of infections, this research is imperative for 2020 because the CDC estimates that in the United States alone, over two million people are sickened every year with antibiotic-resistant infections, with at least 23,000 deaths as a result. Worldwide, there is evidence of antibiotic resistance in bacteria that cause common and treatable infections, such as pneumonia.

The 2020 dream product is likely to build upon the 2019 “Pandemic Protector,” as innovators are already working to develop a series of novel, narrow-spectrum antibacterial agents capable of curing any bacterial infection without induction of drug resistance.

In yet another cumulative way, 2021’s prize is on the topic of dramatic population increase and how to sustain such an increase with innovative ways to produce food while avoiding compromising the integrity of our planet. Given the fact that the population is likely to hit 9.1 billion by 2050, overall food production must increase by 70% between 2005 and 2050.

The prize topics extend as far as 2022, which pertains to renewable sources of energy as to slow and ultimately cease the constant consumption of our natural resources for fuel. In conjunction with this concept, researchers hope to avidly avoid altering our atmosphere’s CO2, which will require us to utilize the sun in new and innovative ways.

Future Insight Prize

It is an honor for Burrus Research to partner with Merck to expand and advance the Future Insight Prize as a mainstream example of anticipatory innovation applied to the greater good of the human race. Professors and scholars of Harvard University, Princeton and many more Ivy League institutions are joining in to get as many innovative minds as possible focusing on pre-solving the world’s greatest challenges in the future sustainability of our planet by way of continuing research laying important foundations for the four published dream products as discussed here.

Change comes from the outside in, forcing us to react and manage crises. Transformation, on the other hand, whether it is business or personal, always comes from the inside out, and that gives us far more positive control while allowing us to actively shape the future. The Future Insight Prize is a perfect example of a company utilizing their available resources to anticipate and pre-solve global problems before they happen as they positively shape the future, not only for themselves, but for the future of humankind. I believe it is imperative that attention be brought to this incredible opportunity for entrepreneurs and innovators alike.

The Curious 2020 Future Insight Conference, will take place July 13 -15, 2020 in Darmstadt, Germany, The Conference will run with plenary sessions followed by three parallel work streams with attendance from all over the world.