Amy Webb of the Future Today Institute offers a dynamic tool to employ when doing longer-term planning processes. Most often we use linear timelines in strategy work. “Nice, linear timelines offer a certain amount of assurance that events can be preordained, chaos can be contained, and success can be plotted and guaranteed.”
It’s abundantly clear this year, that the real world is much less predictable than a straight line! Simply think of the impact of the Covid 19 Pandemic for a real time example of things totally out of your control. Other factors more in your control, like personnel development, new product launches and operational innovation are, Amy suggests, “subject to layers of decisions made throughout your organization. As all those variables collide, they shape the horizon.”
Her future planning approach uses a CONE rather than arbitrarily assigning goals on a quarterly or yearly timeline.
First identify near term highly probable events where there is already data available and then work your way outward in the cone. This first section is likely to be tactical like new products and new customer plans. Each section is a strategic approach and encompasses the one before it as you plan towards your future.
“Unlike a traditional timeline with rigid dates and check-ins, the cone always moves forward. As you gain data and evidence and as you make progress on your actions, the beginning of the cone and your tactical category is always reset in the present day. The result, ideally, is a flexible organization that is positioned to continually iterate and respond to external developments.”
Whether it’s your personal or professional horizon, being ready to pivot and advance forward can help ensure you achieve the future you envision!