For years, companies have been talking about digital upheaval, disruption and digital transformation. In these discussions, uncertainty and fear of the future always resonate. For many CEOs and managers, the company of tomorrow was still just a vision in the distance, a wishful thinking that they could not really approach. While some companies have managed to be agile, innovative and creative – and at the same time scale more and more – many other companies are facing the seemingly insurmountable abyss of digital change and this threatens to overwhelm them.

What is to be done now? The German writer Erhard Schümmelfeder once said

“Not knowing a way out of the predicament does not mean there is no way out.”

We have to break new ground and face the future with an open mind, because competition never sleeps. Whether CEO, CIO or project manager, the time has now come to act and create the “company of the future”. Otherwise the disruptors could change the industry – and that without you!

 

My experiences as a futurist

As a futurist, future strategist and innovation profiler, it is my job to shape the future and actively seek, analyse and understand the trends. It is my task to visualize the world of tomorrow, to think about what might happen and what effects this might have on our private and professional lives. Since the last few years have not necessarily been known for slowing down, it is also important to keep your finger on the pulse of the times and become familiar with technologies and megatrends. With the speed of exponential innovation, there is no more time for basic research.

You need that too. You need a vision of the desired future company and an idea of how you want to get there. You need to read a lot, keep track of the trends or just listen to a few keynotes, podcasts or TedTalks.

As a futurist I can tell you: the most important thing you can do is to stay up to date and keep an eye on the latest trends and technologies. Think about everything you read, what it could bring you and think laterally. It’s always hard to leave the here and now and plan for the future, but it’s worth it. Look behind current trends, such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality or wearables, for the latest drivers and identify their importance for your department or company.

 

You are not alone

Does that sound too difficult to handle alone? You are not alone when it comes to the digital upheaval. Many other companies, whether start-ups, medium-sized companies or corporations, are facing exactly the same challenge. Exchange ideas with each other or talk to disrupters. Startups are grateful for any input and are happy to talk to you. As a board member of the start-up network SUN, I enjoy talking to founders, reflecting on their innovations and technologies and critically questioning them.

Take advantage of the opportunities to break out of your corporate boundaries and look for new perspectives, both optimistic and critical. It is of no use to you if you only read the trend and technology news, which praise them to the skies or look for the discussion partners who are rock solidly convinced of your solution. Question critically and do not develop an optimistic or pessimistic picture of the future, but a realistic view.

 

It takes a new way of thinking

People like to talk about the Futures Mindset, but let’s just call it future openness. Take an attitude that does not stand in the way of you and your growth. There are no fixed rules about how you have to think in order to be successful. (Even though many academy programs will try to tell you otherwise)

Every entrepreneur is unique and so must your management of future challenges. I like to search for the tailor-made innovation profile with my clients and make it similar with my own companies. I know from myself that I need all the information I can get from different sources before I consider a change to be long-term. This also has a lot to do with my journalistic background. But maybe you are someone who needs a mentor or someone who can explain trends in your context and illustrate them with examples. Go inside yourself and ask yourself: “What kind of innovation manager do I want to be?

My tips to come up with an answer: Observe your surroundings, ask questions and as many of them as possible. Have the courage to deal with new topics, but above all – and this sounds almost trite – have fun with what you do.

Start small when it comes to the new way of thinking. Imagine your company in 10 years. What new paths have you taken until 2030? How will things look in 2040? Think about the future and then find your way back to the present and the current opportunities that will prepare you and your company for the desired future.

 

The road to the future is not an easy one. It needs a lot of training, it needs impulses, tools and it will also mean some failures. You need to create new collaborations and partnerships and open yourself up to an uncertain world. But if I may give you one thing – and this is my vision of the world of tomorrow, of which I am absolutely convinced: it is worth it!

If you need help along the way or have any questions, please contact me. I will be at your side at all times, whether as a consultant, a source of inspiration or simply as a discussion partner.

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