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Future fetish

Thornton May | Feb. 18, 2015
Long-term planning involves much more than compiling a list of cool new things.

Where to begin

Before painting a picture of things to come, some futurists believe, the best first step is to complete a brutally honest assessment of the situation as it stands today. For a corporation, this involves mapping the industry and the markets currently served. What do your customers think about you, your products and services, and your competitors? What do you think about those things? What do your customers know about you, your products and services, and your competitors? And finally, what do your customers think about the future -- where are they headed?

Those sorts of questions can also be helpful for executives trying to revitalize an internal function, be it IT, marketing, product development or the project management office. In a recent "futures" session, we asked a group of project managers how much senior executives knew about project management. The rather scary assessment was that senior executives "knew" only 5% to 15% of what they needed to know. That enormous gap between what is actually known and what ought to be known should tell the project managers quite a bit about what's going on right now and what needs to happen in the future -- and technology has nothing to do with it.


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