The biggest challenge facing business leaders today is their ability to navigate their organizations through a complex and quickly changing landscape, says an article by futurists Rohit Talwar, Steve Wells, Alexandra Whittington and Helena Calle in the latest issue of The Futurist Leader. Leaders in this age must learn to develop a “futurist mindset.” This means being able to continually scan the horizon, spot and react to the opportunities and risks, and adjust your company’s current activity in response to what you see. The article offers 10 principles leaders can adopt to ensure they think toward the future, not the past. Find more related articles at

  1. Maintain a constant dialogue with key stakeholders. Regularly converse with customers, prospects, suppliers, partners, shareholders, competitors, industry associations, business networks, advisors, industry analysts, commentators, journalists and—most importantly—your own staff.
  2. Implement continuous foresight and experimentation cycles. The article advises against the old annual or bi-annual long-term planning session and encourages scanning the landscape continuously for changes that will affect you, your business and your industry. The goal is to drive a twice-yearly update of scenarios of how our world might play out in the near, medium, and longer term, the article says.
  3. Hire a futurist. Organizations that are best prepared for the future have such a role, either internal or contracted, at the core of their critical functions.
  4. Define the present broadly. The best future-focused leaders have a sense of context—they know the past by studying history. Understand that future generations are your stakeholders.
  5. Learn something new every day, then watch it grow. Hone your skills as a trendspotter and allot several hours per week to scan and explore what’s coming next.
  6. Let it go. Be willing to sunset projects, products, services and programs that are no longer relevant to make way for new initiatives.
  7. Shape a forward-looking culture. Celebrate and reward those in your organization who seek out and initiate new ideas.
  8. Re-balance technical and soft skills. Soft skills (people skills, social intelligence, emotional intelligence and the like) will become increasingly important as technology automates many other types of tasks.
  9. Take a sustainability perspective. Look beyond the environment for ways your company can contribute to sustainability including eradicating inequality, developing ethical business practices and contributing to personal fulfillment.
  10. Define and redefine organizational identity. Inspire and reassure customers, partners, staff and stakeholders about the positivity and opportunity in change.