Future-Proofing Our Institutions (and the State's Economy)

. December 7, 2012

"Today our institutions are up against new challenges: a rapidly accelerating pace of change, hyper-competition, the commoditization of knowledge, and ever-escalating demands for social accountability," says Gary Hamel, author of What Matters Now: How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation (2012). However, our institutions aren't wired for change. Instead they're wired to be disciplined and efficient, something that comes from "routinizing the non-routine." Adapting to change means organizations must give up outdated routines and "future-proof" themselves for change.

How do you future-proof your organization? According to Hamel:


1.   Anticipate change by resisting the tendency to avoid or ignore disconcerting developments; paying attention to new technologies, unconventional competitors, and unserved customers; and act out how changes will affect you.

2.   Solicit options from employees, vendors, and customers and learn how to experiment cheaply by using storyboards, simulations, role-playing scenarios, and cheap product or service mock-ups (i.e., rapid prototyping).

3.   Become flexible by subdividing large, complex organizational units into smaller differentiated ones; allowing people proposing new products and services to compete for resources with those invested in established ones; and multiply the funding sources for developing new products and services.

4.   Avoid (a) investments that preclude future mid-course corrections, (b) inflexible product designs and service models; and (c) investing too much in one product or market.

5.   Program your organizational DNA for resilience by challenging your employees to come up with new ideas, studying how other entities change and adapt, and using the web to foster collaboration.

Here are more of Hamel's ideas: