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Nearly one million viewers have seen the TEDTalk, "5 Predictions from 1984." In this TEDTalk, Nicholas Negroponte discusses a future including a touch-sensitive display, TV screen, computer mouse and more. In 1984, the predictions he discusses were outlandish and he laughs as he explains some of these predictions to the audience.

Now, jumping over to the TEDTalk, "Why We Need to Imagine Different Futures," Anab Jain shares: “Today it can feel like things are happening too fast—so fast, that it can become really difficult for us to form an understanding of our place in history … We treat our future selves as a stranger, and the future as a foreign land. It's not a foreign land; it's unfolding right in front of us, continually being shaped by our actions today. We are that future, and so I believe fighting for a future we want is more urgent and necessary than ever before.”

It is critical for construction leaders to embrace this idea of the future. The key to successful future planning includes using strategic tools that encourage innovative solutions. Edward Cornish outlines a few of these strategic tools useful to innovative solutions in his book "Futuring: The Exploration of the Future," including the following.

  • Games: Games offer teams the opportunities to play out scenarios and situations. These games are used to stimulate planning, risk-taking and dialogue among teams.
  • Mental models: Mental models offer teams the opportunity to think through concepts, process solutions, identify problems and examine perceptions. 
  • Visioning: Visioning is the task of identifying problems, past successes, future desires, goals and resources the team needs to achieve the desired future.
  • Scanning: Scanning is seeking and gathering trends and new ideas from the internet, magazines, social media and other platforms. 
  • Scenario planning: Scenario planning relies on storytelling that allows leaders to imagine a future under varying conditions. This understanding and perspective allows teams to make decisions.

These are just a few of the many strategic tools available to leaders seeking innovative solutions in the construction space. Many construction executives may understand the value of these tools but may not know how to implement and benefit from the specific practices. Leaders in the construction industry greatly benefit from working directly with a strategic consultant to help facilitate this type of work.

Construction executives have a responsibility to prepare themselves and their teams for success in the future. Here are a few additional resources that speak to the value of this strategic approach and perspective to planning for the future. Leaders know innovative solutions do not just suddenly appear but are outputs to planned and processed organizational initiatives. Consider diving into the future further with these resources.

  • "Future Savvy" by Adam Gordon
  • "Future Smart" by James Canton
  • "Futuring: The Exploration of the Future" by Edward Cornish

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