Every small business owner should display in a prominent place this John F. Kennedy quote: “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future.”

As the CEO, you’re the futurist of your business, and the product of a futurist’s work is foresight.

Professional futurists aren’t inspired by God, they aren’t clairvoyant, nor do they have ESP. But they do look at the world differently than the average person. They typically see things before others do, largely because their focus is influenced by the following factors:

  • Extreme curiosity: This isn’t first by accident. Curiosity is to foresight what oxygen is to life.
  • Orders of implication: Futurists imagine the impact of multiple possibilities from a single scenario that hasn’t happened yet.
  • Collaboration: Futurists study the work of other futurists, work together, and welcome peer reviews.
  • Foresight tools: Some resources are sophisticated, some not so much.

As you can see, there’s nothing supernatural about these factors; nothing you don’t already have or can’t acquire, at least at the level of CEO futurist.

Let me lower the intimidation factor and make foresight easier with CEO foresight tools. You’ll recognize the first two:

  • Curiosity: The only person who’s more curious than a futurist is an entrepreneur. Curiosity is your most powerful tool — unleash it.
  • Watch for implications: When you see something new — a thing, idea or a development — unfocus your eyes and imagine the short- and long-term implications. Play the “what if” game with your team.
  • Read: Professional futurists call it scanning. Read everything you can get your hands on about your universe and your customers’ universes. Start connecting dots.
  • Pay attention: This is the first cousin of curiosity. You pay attention to your business every day. Now add what’s outside your four walls to your scan.
  • Experience: Never underestimate the foresight value of past successes and failures, especially to the implications element.
  • Peer relationships: This includes CEO roundtables, whether formal or informal, but also attending industry events to listen to and compare notes with other CEO futurists.


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