In a recent conversation, someone suggested that nonprofit leaders consider The Future as a stakeholder in our organizations. In other words, give The Future a seat at the table—not just from time to time but as a regular and strategic topic.
Like the objects in a car’s side-view mirror, the future is closer than we think.
We avoid thinking about The Future for two reasons: Uncertainty about what is to come and comfort in the way things are now.
We’ve all heard the adage “People resist change.” It’s not really true. According to Ronald Heifetz, at Harvard’s Kennedy School, people love change when they know it’s “good change.” No one gives back a winning lottery ticket.
What we resist is loss.
Change, even positive change, still requires that we lose something: a routine, a relationship, familiarity or even just convenience. Whether our loss is real or perceived, we hold on and resist. A key to leadership, then, is encouraging a spirit of curiosity, rather than certainty, in the face of change.
Exchanging security for curiosity.
Curiosity builds diagnostic capacity to assess, manage, distribute, and provide context that helps move people through loss and into a new place.
We may not like where we are. And, there are no pain-free solutions to the challenges nonprofit leaders face. There is always loss in every decision. Yet, when we face the stark reality of a situation (Jim Collins refers to this as confronting the brutal facts), it spurs innovation and can help people see themselves as part of the solution.
These are strategic moments.
Here are two resources we use to invite adaptation and innovation and reframe change:
- “How Might We”Questions – These questions suggest that a solution is possible by offering the chance to answer the questions in a variety of ways—giving us the perfect frame for innovative thinking.
- Adaptive Design – This pithy article provides a set of principles and tools to help you achieve the promise of innovation while navigating the cultural and political ramifications of change.
Give it a shot. Take a challenging question or problem you’re facing and reframe it with “How Might We…” questions OR try out the tools outlined in the article and see what emerges. We’d love to hear what you discover, so drop us a line and let us know what happens!
In the spirit of William Gibson, “the future is already here – just not evenly distributed.”
Embrace the future, friends!