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Foresight and Future Value
Episode #24 of the Third Turn Podcast with Tom Sine.
The principle that a third-turn, maestro-level leader helps craft future value for the organization inevitably elicits this question: ‘OK, but what exactly do you mean by future value?’
The commonplace assumption is that it’s all about the balance sheet. And as Mark points out in this episode, this reflects the broader tendency among organizational leaders to define success and effectiveness primarily with financial metrics:
- Nonprofit leaders often define success and effectiveness in terms of expenses
- Business leaders often define success by revenue
- Business owners often define success by margin or bottomline profit.
When was the last time you heard an executive leader define success by mission-centric metrics or the number of consumers/constituents impacted in a positive way? For example: ‘We improved the lives of # customers last year by ___________.’
Future value--a richer, more mission-centric definition plus ways to identify and develop it--is what we dig into in this episode, with the help of our guest, futurist Tom Sine.
For the maestro-level leader, future value is about ensuring future vitality and enduring relevance of the mission, in context of ever increasing market disruption and change. It’s about harnessing collective wisdom, creativity, and foresight to anticipate and prepare strategically for change as the order of business, rather than staying complacent in what’s current and familiar.
Tom has great experience and perspective here, holding a PhD in history with a minor in strategic foresight and having worked for more than three decades with a broad range of churches and global non-profit groups like Habitat for Humanity and Tearfund UK.
Tom galvanizes cross-sector perspective around these three practical steps:
- Anticipating new, emerging market needs and challenges
- Broadly researching innovative ways to respond, and
- Selecting options most authentic to the mission.
Most recently, Tom’s work has focused primarily on engaging business people to help churches and nonprofits innovate in mission-critical ways. But the resulting strategies and examples he shares can serve as helpful and inspiring “future value” examples for us all; among them:
- A church, responding to the trend of growing ethnic and racial diversity in its community, set out to be the most ethnically diverse faith community in the area, and found creative ways to engage its new neighbors and foster learning and blending cultures.
- Rather than simply counting and commiserating over declines in church attendance among young adults, some churches are inviting the next generation into innovative social enterprise initiatives that engage their imagination and interest in social justice, and help the church itself become more engaged in the needs of its local community.
Regardless of whether you lead in a nonprofit, church, or business setting, this episode on foresight and future value will be thought-provoking. And if you’re like me, you’ll finish feeling inspired and hopeful of being as full of passion and vision in your mid-80s as Tom.
Here’s to foresight, future value, and the resulting impact on future generations.
For digging deeper into this topic and Tom’s work:
- New Changemakers - Tom’s website
- 2020s Foresight: Three Vital Practices for Thriving in a Decade of Accelerating Change - Tom’s most recent book, in partnership with Dwight J. Friesen
- The Anticipatory Organization: Turning Disruption and Change into Opportunity and Advantage - Tom’s recommendation as one of the best business books he’s found for anticipating incoming waves of change
- Live Like You Give A Damn! Join the Changemaking Celebration - Tom’s book in response to growing interest in social enterprise among church leaders
And another fun little small-world situation for me: Early in this conversation Tom mentions a years-ago Twin Cities church initiative that has led to what today is Innové Studios (often referred to as “the Shark Tank for churches”), now led by my friend Brian Jones. And lo and behold, Innové Studios just helped my own faith community, Wayzata Community Church, with a social entrepreneurship initiative we named Dough! The week we recorded with Tom, the grant recipients were just being announced--you can check them out here. Moral of this small-world story? It’s impossible to tell where meaningful innovations will grow and go.
With each episode of the Third Turn Podcast we host a conversation among leaders who want the world to flourish for generations beyond their lifetimes.
Listening with others in some way and enjoying in-depth conversations of your own as you reflect and choose what you would do the same or differently is a plus!
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