Future Thinking

We often ask senior managers three related questions: First, what percentage of your time is spent on external, rather than internal, issues–understanding, for example, the implications of a particular new technology versus debating corporate overhead allocations? Second, of this times pent looking outward, how much of it is spent considering how the world could be different in five or ten years, as opposed to worrying about winning the next big contract or how to respond to a competitor’s pricing move? Third, of the time devoted to looking outward and forward, how much of it is spent in consultation with colleagues, where the objective of it is to build a deeply shared, well-tested view of the future, as opposed to a person a idiosyncratic view?

The answer we get typically conform to what we call the “40/30/20” rule … Thus, on average, senior management is devoting less than 3% (40% x 30% x 20% = 2.4%) of its energy to building a corporate perspective on the future.

–Gary Hamel & C.K. Prahalad, Competing for the Future


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