About a decade ago I tripped across a diagram that has proven to be an excellent visual* to explain the process of getting to there. If I’ve used it once, I’ve used it at least a thousand times.
The diagram has several elements:
- The present, which represents the way things are today.
- The probably future, representing what’s most likely if nothing changes in your design.
- The possible future, representing all the outcomes that are possible.
- The preferred future, representing a combination of the probable, the possible, and the preferred (and even a thin slice depicting what Steven Johnson referred to as “the adjacent possible” in Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation).
- A first milestone (“12 months later” in the diagram above).
There are other elements not shown in this version of the diagram.
How I Use the Preferred Future Diagram
I use the diagram to describe several important stages in the process of getting to there:
- Developing a first draft of a vision statement or beginning to assemble a vision dashboard.
- Understanding the truth about current realities, conducting an “autopsy without blame,” and learning to speak the “last 10 percent of truth.”
- Developing insight into what to expect about the future if nothing changes in the design of your organization.
- Crafting a blue sky brainstorming session or recruiting a cross-functional team of staff and volunteers to identify a long-list of possible developments.
- Identifying the first milestone or two, as well as the lead indicators, that will move your organization in the direction of the preferred future.
Can You See It?
This diagram has proven to be the catalyst for many, many robust conversations and consulting engagements. Whether you’ve only recently acknowledged that your organization may need some help in order to get to there or you’ve been stuck for quite a while, I know you’ll find what countless others have discovered.
It is possible to take the steps that lead to your preferred future.
It won’t be easy. No worthwhile journey ever is.
But, you can get there.
Can I invite you to set up a call to talk over how to begin? Email Me to learn more about how I can help you with this.
*I discovered the diagram in a book called Turning the Future Into Revenue: What Business and Individuals Need to Know to Shape Their Futures by Glen Hiemstra (Hiemstra is a futurist and a fascinating guy).