A regional business newspaper, the Valley Business Report, is sponsoring a Foresight Workshop for business people in May in Mission, Texas. This will be about futures/foresight methods and how to apply those methods in business, particularly in small business. This is a four-hour workshop, which allows business people to attend in the morning and be back in their offices in the afternoon.
The format that I’m planning is a personal futures approach, then a discussion of how each tool or method can be applied in a small business. As a result, I’m working on a supplemental workbook for small business.
Fortunately, I started on this workbook some time ago, so I have most of the information.
This is a subject to which I’ve given considerable thought. Most of my working life has been in small business. That background led me into the UHCL program in Studies of the Future because I felt I needed a better understanding of long term thinking. I came out of the UHCL program totally convinced of the value of futures methods, and feeling that every individual should have the advantage of this knowledge, which took me into my research in Personal Futures.
After several years of focusing on Personal Futures, I started thinking about small business, because I was applying futures methods in my own small business. But I was applying foresight in the same manner that I was using in personal futures; the focus was on internal forces rather than external forces. Large organizations focus on external forces because external forces appear to have the greater potential impact. I believe most very large organizations feel confident that they are already experts in managing the internal forces in their organization, and that the external forces offer the greatest risks. Obviously, this isn’t always true (think Enron), but this is how things appear to me.
Small businesses are learning new things about their business every day. They frequently have limited resources and are trying to create or cope with growth. They have their hands full just dealing with the internal forces in their business. Just like families. And that’s why I think a personal approach is a good way to start thinking about the future.
On the other hand, I strongly believe that everyone can best learn about futures tools and methods by starting with Personal Futures. This is not just because I am so invested in Personal Futures (which I acknowledge) but it’s about learning systems. How do we learn?
We learn best and quickest from what we can experience, and Personal Futures is based on each individual’s life experience. This allows individuals to learn a totally new method or tool and relate that method or tool to personal experience. The result is instant learning, because the experience is already built in. This approach also appears to be effective in large organizations for leadership training in long-term thinking. This concept was very well received by HR executives when I addressed them at the World HRD Congress in Mumbai. (Here’s a link to a video excerpt: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moy4X2hLoVo )
So back to my small business workbook. Do you have any suggestions about what should be included in such a workbook and workshop? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Personal Futures web site, http://www.personalfutures.net. I will appreciate your ideas. I will probably include some of these thoughts on small and large business in our preconference workshop (C-8) at the World Future Society conference in Vancouver. You may find this interesting!