You sit at your computer, productive, focused, dedicated to your work. You engage the detailed specifics of your job, the numbers, the facts, the personnel, the movement of things. You are an expert. You can tell when things are right and wrong. The organization rewards you for your knowledge and skill. You get things right. You are proud of your knowledge, skill, and focus. But you may be missing the future.
Expert knowledge can put blinders on you
It's hard to see the forest for the trees or you may have fallen out of the habit. I see this with people I meet in organizations. They can be savvy outside work and un-thoughtful or un-critical inside.
The job does it to them. The overburden of work and sometimes the corporate culture, squeezes them into a narrow place. So can a sense of the special role of their profession. Sometimes I hear people say they had read about an interesting trend or technology in the news or saw it in their travels, but it didn't occur ot them to think about how it might relate to their work. Too often their workplace doesn't encourage them to bring such observations into their what they do.
A specialist's tight focus can blind you to the bigger picture. It can dim your view of new demands and opportunities from outside the system. And yet it may be, officially, your job to have that tight focus. It's also true that ideas about "how our business works" and "this is our mission" may be nearsighted for the evolving global reality that is shaping your destiny.
We all should be scouts, out in the world encountering change and clues to the future. If we can build and reinforce the habit of bringing those insights into our work our organizations will be better off. And with that, we should keep our focus broad, see the whole forest, not just the trees.
Foresight tools bring a payoff by widening the view (as well as deepening it into the future). Most change is from the outside. Foresight tools are for making the whole forest visible to people whose eyes are on the trees, or even only the leaves.
Those tools include:
Each is a big(ger) picture mechanism. Each has been a powerful tool I've used with my clients over the years. They end up sharper, clearer-minded, aware, and more foresightful.
Please let me know if I can help you and your team to explore a wider world of change that will be a part of your destiny: firstname.lastname@example.org and 202-272-0444.
Images: Aidan Grey, Joshua Mayer, Beatrice Murch, via Flickr, Creative Commons ShareAlike license. NASA.