As a business, it’s important to be prepared for the worst. If you have an e-commerce store, you’re going to want to have solid cyber security established. If you’re in retail, you’ll want to have systems in place to respond when you run out of inventory. If you have a website, it’s wise to keep a current version of your site backed up and off-site at all times.
However, being ready to properly react to problems only gets you halfway to success. While a savvy leader establishes safeguards in order to protect what a company already has, they must marry this preparedness philosophy with a more radical creed: a forward-thinking mindset. After all, there’s a reason one of the top qualities of a natural-born entrepreneur is the art of thinking ahead.
If your company feels trapped in reactionary cycles, you’re not alone. Here are a few tips and suggestions for ways to turn the tide and begin to cultivate a forward-thinking mindset from the top to the bottom of your operation.
First and foremost, if you want to develop a forward-thinking mindset within your business, it’s critical that you start at the top. Whether you’re part of the C-suite of a Fortune 500 company, the entrepreneur helming a small startup, or anything in between, if your leadership doesn’t have a passion for the future, sooner or later your company will begin to atrophy.
There may have been a time in the past when established, repetitive formulas for success could be implemented, but in the modern era, this approach no longer applies. What worked today may not be relevant tomorrow. The only formula you can count on is that change is now a constant.
With that said, the leadership of a company must serve double duty as the primary visionaries of the enterprise. They must adopt the standard of looking to the future and finding their company’s place within it. If you can foster a sense of forward-looking enlightenment at the top-tier of your business, it will begin to trickle down into your company in numerous ways before long.
Forward-thinking is contagious. When someone, especially a superior, approaches a problem with creativity, passion, and thoughts toward the future, it’s only a matter of time before the attitude catches on like wildfire.
Once your leadership has been imbued with the desire to look to the future, it’s important to enable the mentality to spread throughout your operation. This can happen through direct contact with employees, but it can also be facilitated through:
The more an employee feels empowered to make decisions, the more likely they’ll be to explore their options and look for cutting-edge techniques that can lead to maximum success.
Show concern for employees
The modern world is socially aware, and corporate social responsibility is trending hard. All companies should take great pains to care for their employees. Work-life balance, remote work options, and flexible schedules all help to cultivate an invested workforce. This encourages greater involvement and teamwork as you work towards the future.
Establish systems for change
With all of this upheaval in the workplace, it’s also critical to have forward-thinking systems well-established and in place before you initiate any sweeping changes. If a new piece of software hits the market, for instance, you need to introduce the new business process with an eye towards communication, timing, and proper training.
If both your leadership and your employees can be brought into the forward-thinking fold, it will create a workplace culture ready for whatever the future holds.
The business world is driven by Big Data and technology. Where once upon a time leaders had to trust to “gut feelings” when making decisions, any forward-thinking company can now simply turn to the numbers. In other words, if you want your company to stay ahead of the curve, you absolutely must have proper business analytics and intelligence in place.
Everything from cutting-edge collaboration tools for internal communication to the latest online marketing techniques must be analyzed, implemented, and updated on a regular basis.
For instance, the technology shift from traditional satellite and cable television to online streaming services dramatically disrupted the entertainment industry and prompted numerous avant-garde companies to shift their marketing efforts online — a trend that culminated with digital ad spending officially surpassing television ad spending in 2017.
As Business 2 Community contributor Telmo Silva put it when referring to the future potential of technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning, “it will be a race for companies to harness its power and create new services that provide value in unique ways.” The duty of a forward-thinking company is to harness those new technologies and then use them to organize and grow their business.
A forward-thinking mindset must begin at the top of a company, where it should trickle down into the rank and file. When a business can foster a culture of perpetually looking forward, all while backing up this attitude with an effort to stay abreast of the latest tech and data trends, it naturally situates itself at the front of the pack, where it can lead the charge into the future.