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Creating Your Future
by: Thomas W. McKee

Creating the future for your company or association is the exciting work of strategic planning. Allen Liff, in "Learning How to Create the Future," published by Association Management, August 1997, outlines five important lessons in planning for the future.

Lesson 1:

Imagination is the master of great strategy; implementation is its servant. First dream, and then ask, "How can we reach our dream?" Henry Ford first imagined a car everyone could afford. Then he designed the assembly line as the means to accomplish his dream.

Lesson 2:

When it comes to creating value, imagination wins out over forecasting and prediction. When gathering information to determine how the future will unfold, it is important to remember that forecasting is a tool, not the end. Fifteen years ago, it was Chrysler that went beyond mere forecasting to ask, "What does all of the information about the hectic pace of families mean to the auto industry?" The answer was the mini—van.

Lesson 3:

Ambitious goals act as catalysts. Henry Ford's ambition was captured in the soundbite, "Put a car in every garage." John F. Kennedy said that before the end of the decade, we would land a man on the moon and bring him back safely.

Lesson 4:

Don't listen to the naysayers. People who invent the future are often alone. When Fred Smith, founder of Federal Express, wrote a paper about the concept of overnight delivery service, a Yale University management professor responded, "The concept is interesting and well—formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C,' the idea must be feasible."

"Companies that create the future do more than satisfy customers; they constantly amaze them." — Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad, Competing for the Future

Lesson 5:

Create an agenda, not a detailed plan. Strategic planning is a high level blueprint for the future. Cary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad, authors of Competing for the Future, say that an agenda will…

  • Capture the dream of the organization
  • Define the benefits it will deliver to customers
  • Identify necessary core competencies
  • Define how the organization will interface with the customer

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