How do we focus on the future and deliver today?

The 14th of October marked the first Focus Group meeting on Teams & Beyond. Danny Tuckwood, Co-founder and Director of Teams & Beyond, facilitated the discussion with participants. As a co-creative process, the aim was to generate new thinking from the various perspectives and insights emerging from the group.

Context

Tomorrow is uncertain and yet if we don’t think about this, there won’t be a future to consider, especially when considering climate change. Thinking about tomorrow also requires that we start to think more broadly than our current stakeholders, or circumstances, which requires open thinking and being more comfortable with agility and complexity.

We know that thinking about the future isn’t limited to just the top teams in organisations. Everyone in the company needs to plan and prepare, to learn and adapt to the world we live in and to dream about what the future might look like. Being engaged in the future is actually necessary to thrive on multiple levels.

In contrast, when in survival mode, the focus is very much on the present and people find it difficult to engage with what might lie ahead. Further to that, when panic sets in, cognitive ability shuts down and it’s almost impossible to see past anything but the present.

How does this affect organisations who are trying to figure their way through this and engage with what could lie ahead for them and what that means now? And how do we assist the teams we work with, encouraging everyone to look ahead whilst they are typically operating in a current survival mode mentality?

Individuals and organisations co-exist and co-create

Building a future view into current day contexts requires taking into account the organisational future view as well as that of its people, as the two are inextricably linked. For this reason, it’s impossible to access the future view of the organisation without tapping into the individuals.

Everyone has a hope for the future

Considering the fact that everyone has a hope for the future, provides a useful starting point for giving each person a chance to tell their story, irrespective of whether they can focus on it at this stage or not. Ideally this should be a conversation structured outside of the day to day and task driven operations. In creating the opportunity to share thoughts and feelings about hopes for the future, the way for moving forward may actually be uncovered.

Conversations the team leader has builds relationships outside of the task

Essentially making space for these kinds of conversations, outside of task driven activities, is crucial even though it may feel as if there’s no space to do so. Ironically in the process, current and future tasks may progress more fluidly. Engaging with the person, not the role, is key.

A point to remember is that whilst it is the role of the coach or team leader to enable the space for the conversation, the responsibility lies with all members of the team to engage once such space has been created.

Safety creates engagement

If the focus is human first, there is a space for things to emerge. Psychological safety is an important feature here in order to allow for openness and authentic engagement. Coaches and leaders can work together in creating this, giving people the opportunity to speak without fear of judgement or making a mistake. “Power access” was a term that emerged to describe team sessions that focus on the team taking back collective power through safe engagement.

What we do now has an impact on the future

The conversations and decisions happening now have an impact for the future and yet the consequences of today’s conversations and decisions remain, as yet unseen. As such there can be a tendency for leaders to focus on the wrong thing. Becoming more intentional around the kind of conversations and decisions taken now, just one conversation at a time, can result in a more meaningful outcome.

Shift from the individualistic focus of the past to connection

Covid-19 has forced us to shift from the individualistic focus of the past 100 years or so to look more at connection and social engagement. The theme of the 20th century was around individual success, and the silver lining to Covid-19 is a re-engagement of the community and getting to the hearts, as well as the minds, of people, teams, organisations and communities.

If we can succeed, as leaders and coaches in creating connection, then the small behaviours, decisions and discussions that have major systemic impact, will begin to change, both inside and outside organisations.

Thank you to all those who contributed to the discussion!

An interactive recording of this live event is now available

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