How Will You Create the Future of Your Business?

September 17, 2018

Ready or not, Big Data is here. As organizations struggle to make the best use of the staggering quantity of data available, leaders must first assess how outdated modes of thinking threaten the future success of their companies.

Jared Nichols, adjunct faculty at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business, says organizations can navigate a seemingly unknowable future. They must begin to see the future as a range of possibilities instead of a set eventuality.

In “Challenging Your Mindset about the Future,” Nichols identifies three key stumbling blocks faced by today’s business leaders: traditional ideas about the future, biases and assumptions, and conventional decision-making models. With specific suggestions to overcome these challenges, Nichols prepares leaders to actively create the future of their organizations and industries.

Leaders, he writes, need to assess how preconceptions limit their thinking about the future of their industry. For example, Nichols describes Blockbuster’s failure to harness the value of the copious amounts of customer data at their disposal in 1994 and were instead relegated to obsolescence by insisting on a big box retail model. He stresses the reassessment process must be continual and rigorous to be effective.

“The good news is that the unprecedented amount of information we have access to today, while it may have many interpretations, can still be used for effective decision-making,” Nichols says. “But, your relationship to it must change.”

Access to relevant, accurate information is no longer the challenge facing leaders, who instead must find ways to  condense these data down to a meaningful narrative. Decision-making must break free of such confining narrative restrictions and become fluid enough to absorb and change with new information.

Nichols remains optimistic not only that such changes in thought are possible, but that by them we will create the future we want to see.

Interested in applying these ideas to your organization? Pre-register now for an upcoming online course, “Foresight Academy: THINK Like a Futurist.”

“Challenging Your Mindset about the Future” appeared in A SAVVY Guide to the Digital Supply Chain from the Haslam College of Business’s Global Supply Chain Institute in April 2018.