Take the "Creating your company’s future" quiz to discover whether your business is positioned to be an ever-evolving enterprise. Read Stephen Harper's article "A Guide to Creating the Future" in the March/April 2011 issue of Industrial Management.
*Scoring level: 1 = not at all, 2 = rarely, 3 = occasionally, 4 = frequently, 5 = ongoing/extensive
To what extent does your business have a specific and challenging vision for its future that fosters a high level of energy and commitment in people at all levels to be engaged and stretch to their potential?
To what extent does your firm use a “backward from the future” to the present approach (using the strategic planning gap mental framework) rather than a “present into the future” approach to determine what should be done?
To what extent does management use mental models that are in sync with current and emerging business realities?
To what extent does top management recognize that before your company can embark on a new path it must make a deliberate effort to discontinue current practices?
How often does your company contemplate what your market (competition, customers, technology, etc.) will be like in three years?
To what extent does your company probe what your current customers will want in three years? To what extent are you probing to identify their unarticulated needs as well as their unmet needs?
How frequently does your business do a systematic analysis of what your competitors are doing and contemplate what they may be considering in their effort to take your customers?
To what extent is your business involved in trying to introduce game-changing products and to make your competitors’ products obsolete?
Your company’s time and resources are being spent trying to develop innovative solutions to emerging problems rather than trying to get more mileage from your current products.
To what extent does your business have a clearly articulated set of strategic initiatives with key milestones for creating its future?
Your business has a variety of products in its pipeline that will foster growth for the next three to five years.
Your business uses the stage gate process to screen ideas for their relative merit so ideas with limited merit do not get continued funding.
To what extent does your business have a real-time early-warning system in place for informing management of variances or deviations from the assumptions that were the basis for forecasts and resulting plans?
Management makes a deliberate effort to hire, encourage and reward people who have diverse perspectives, who make timely inquiries, who foster robust and diverse discussions, who elicit key insights and cross pollination of ideas that lead to breakthrough ideas and initiatives.
To what extent are people at all levels in your business encouraged to and are able to share their concerns (either candidly or anonymously) about assumptions, decisions, plans, practices, processes and/or performance so problems can be prevented, surprises minimized and bad news can be reported quickly?
Your business has ongoing efforts to reduce the constraints (bureaucracy, rigidity, politics, legacy mindsets, etc.) that impede learning, speed and agility.
Your company has a system in place for acquiring and sharing information to enhance performance.
Your business has stretch goals that only can be accomplished by high levels of innovation and commitment.
To what extent do the people involved with implementation have the mental dexterity and courage to improvise when the situation warrants changing the game plan and finding innovative ways to get the job done?
Your company’s performance review system holds people at all levels accountable for results.
Congratulations, your business demonstrates the qualities truly needed to create its future.
Your company is doing many of the things it needs to do to create its future, but it still has areas that can be improved.
Your business has some strengths but a lot of room for improvement.
Your business has significant impairments that impede its ability to create its future.
Your business may be beyond hope. It will take a radical change in management, corporate culture, systems and processes to have any chance of doing what is needed to create its future.