How Leaders Can Prepare for the Day After Tomorrow

Today’s business climate is more demanding than ever as executives are faced with a wide array of challenges. The global political climate introduced economic uncertainty and new legislation that affects talent at all levels. Rapid digitalization provides both opportunity and disruption as businesses work to most effectively leverage technology. And demographic shifts create a multigenerational workforce requiring companies to adapt their policies and culture in order to acquire top talent.

Navigating the complexities of today is key for business leaders and for trusted advisors. Sharing findings from his latest book, The Day After Tomorrow, Peter Hinssen delivered the keynote address at Elevate 2017 in Brussels. A serial entrepreneur, advisor, author and partner at nexxworks, he discussed today’s exponentially changing world and its consequences for organizations of today. Here, he touches on why it is critical that organizations prepare for the day after tomorrow.

AESC: In your new book, you discuss your Day After Tomorrow model. Can you highlight the potential long-term value organizations and leaders will gain by adopting this model?

Peter Hinssen: When technology speeds up environments and markets like it does today, organizations have to think much further ahead in order to stay relevant and keep ahead of the competition. They should not just think about Today and Tomorrow but about their Day After Tomorrow. This kind of radical very long-term thinking has the potential to change entire markets, industries and even the world and it offers the most long-term value for organizations. The optimal division of an organization’s time, talent and investments should be 70% on Today, 20% on Tomorrow and 10% on the Day After Tomorrow.


AESC: In The Day After Tomorrow, you explore how companies can become agile in their ‘Day After Tomorrow’ thinking. Our next-generation report found that agility is a critical attribute for leadership. What other attributes would you say are necessary for ‘Day After Tomorrow’ leaders?

Peter Hinssen: For me, Day After Tomorrow leadership could be summed up by the acronym VACINE (yes, with one C): Velocity, Agility, Creativity, Innovation, Networks and Experimentation. On top of agility, it will come down to the capacity of organizations to foster Creativity and to let Innovation flow faster through the Network of employees, partners and customers. And perhaps most essential is the need to take the traditional corporate aversion to risk into an appetite for Experimentation, and to learn from our mistakes.

Related article: TSR: The Intersection of Technology & Corporate Social Responsibility

AESC: Leaders of executive search and leadership consulting firms help clients and organizations of all types and sizes worldwide. As trusted advisors, what can they do to best help their clients? And how should they apply this for themselves within their own business?

Peter Hinssen: The best way to help their clients might be (counterintuitively) to take themselves out of the equation in the parts where speed and agility are of the essence - by automating parts of their processes and interactions - so that they can concentrate for the full 100% on those tasks that require their full attention to their customers. In an accelerating world, being able to respond fast to customers is of the essence, so those customers will be able to respond fast to their own environment as well.

One of the biggest pitfalls for companies looking at the future is a lack of long-term vision or applying linear thinking and extrapolating their Today to their Day After Tomorrow. I always advise them to try to envisage something radically different for their future and then work their way back from there to here. Not the other way around as most companies do. One thing, for instance, is looking into what the most radical impact of IoT, AI, VR, AR or blockchain could be on their business and then trying to figure out how to get there.

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