Where Are You in Issue Space and Time?

Don't know? Your routine analytic repertoire should include surrounding and impending issues. If not, you risk being blindsided and forced to react with less preparation and fewer options than you could have. How to start?

There is a lot of chatter about mindfulness as a solution. This is an updating of the centeredness sought in the 00's. Being mindful, or centered, allows more dispassionate perception, less emotional reaction and more purposeful choices. The promise is that decisions taken in these mind-states have better results. The concept is mostly addressed to individuals, but organizations need to seek the same awareness and for the same reasons.

Most organizations, and most individuals, have little sense of where they are in strategic space. They have no detailed information on anticipated change, evolutionary or disruptive, in their operational space. So, they are constantly surprised by developments and reacting after things happen. That is the most expensive and exhausting coping mechanism available.

These organizations and individuals are not ignorant or insensitive. Often the difficulty is the very human tendency to focus on the parts they think that they can control or safely predict and cross their fingers about everything else. Sometimes the error is the tendency to ignore all but the most straightforward problems in the environment, the problems that are well characterized and for which there are agreed solution steps. Real problems in the other three quadrants are ignored because they are harder for a range of reasons. See http://www.currycorp.net/blog.html?id=182; http://www.currycorp.net/blog.html?id=183 and http://www.currycorp.net/blog.html?id=184 for more detail.

When significant and sustained disruption happens these individuals and organizations are immediately plunged into a massive and rapidly shifting change situation, often without the knowledge, skills and attitudes (KSAs) required to cope let alone thrive. The examples of Uber, Netflix and MP3 are well known industry-wide disruptors. Divorce, major health incidents, addiction, family crises, even a long distance move will fundamentally dislocate individual lives. What happens next is usually a chaotic and desperate fight for survival.

None of us are immune to change; all of us are vulnerable to disruption. We can, however, do a much better job of preparation. Cultivated mindfulness will help overcome the fear of really looking at the actual issue space. Then the task is to find the KSAs needed to understand possible, likely and preferred changes, their timing and impact. What separates leaders is their awareness of where they are in the change grid for issues affecting themselves and their organizations. Effective leaders then know how to take proactive steps towards defining and attaining a preferred future.

Leadership, like life, is not a "wait and see" proposition.

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