070617 Wilde Five Questions About Future Blog Hero.jpg

Five Questions to Ask Yourself About the Future

At the beginning of 2017, i4cp published a series of editorials from 18 thought leaders who boldly offered predictions of what’s ahead for our field. Informative, provocative, and even scary, the collective crystal ball-gazing prompted us to consider if we are prepared to succeed in the strange new world ahead.  

At the mid-year mark, we might agree that some things are indeed strange, while some things remain quite familiar. This might also be time to step back from your own plans for the year, consider what progress you’ve made, and where a course-correction may be needed. 

Let’s recap how the future has unfolded so far, and consider a few mid-year reflecting points:

Big Data didn’t get any smaller. 
The importance of growing people analytic capabilities has been a constant drumbeat. If you need to pick up the pace on this one, i4cp is launching a six-part people analytic series.
How have you expanded and integrated your analytic practice?  

Accumulated knowledge just doubled again.
What used to take centuries and then decades to happen now happens nearly daily. A quick tally of i4cp’s 2017 contributions so far includes 85+ posts of blogs, research reports, infographics, white papers, survey results, case studies, tools, and interviews. It might be useful to block some time out to scan this material and even the initial prediction blogs to refine your thinking for a revised second-half game plan.
Which topics do you need to pay closer attention to right now?

Your workforce is older or younger or whatever. 
I admit to being more than a bit flummoxed about the workforce generational thing. It’s safe to say that anyone on payroll since January has aged and future hires might be from the newest generation. Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess if they will be radically different. So, whether you are a devoted fan of the generational difference tsunami or a stogy skeptic, it pays to stay close to your own organization’s talent profile shifts.
What trends do you see in your workforce (by the characteristics most important to you)? How are you responding?

You’re probably breaking in a new CEO.
Or the other way around. From Uber to Coke to Starbucks, the leaders of the band keeps churning and we need to keep up with the new marching tune. Sometimes the churn is expected and sometimes not. A not-so-bold prediction is that this will continue. So, if your CEO is new, time to redouble your “align and adapt” political savvy to stay relevant. And if your CEO has been around awhile—or your industry is in major disruption mode—perhaps it’s time to prepare for the unexpected.
How clear and current are you with what’s relevant to senior leadership? What do you need to get ready for that you might not expect right now?

Change hasn’t taken a rest and uncertainty isn’t signaling what’s next. 
Many of the New Year blogs cited trends that are accelerating and new practices that need to be embraced. Yet most also offered a measured, cautionary note that while some things will be more true in the future, there will still be uncertainty about how and what and when it all happens. Such is the nature of predicting; the best we can do is pay attention as we execute our planned strategies.
What current strategic plans are still relevant to your current circumstances where recommitted execution is appropriate? What plans could use some reconsideration, if not redirection?  

As with those 18 predictions, this set of five mid-year reflections should be taken as a nudge to pause, consider what’s unfolding in your world right now, and how prepared are you for what’s next.  

Kevin D. Wilde is a strategic business adviser at i4cp and former Chief Learning Officer at General Mills.

Kevin Wilde
Kevin D. Wilde is a strategic business advisor to the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) and currently serves as an executive leadership fellow at the University of Minnesota. His prior 34-year corporate career includes serving as the head of learning and talent management at General Mills. Chief Learning Officer magazine named him CLO of the Year in 2007. His most recent award-winning book is, “Coachability: The Leadership Superpower.”