Navigating Change with Vision: The Role of Future State Visualization in Fractional Leadership

When companies face hurdles during times of change, it's important to create an environment that supports growth. One powerful visual tool is Future State Visualization.

It can be hard to see beyond the current problem, but using Future State Visualization helps not only to (re)set the vision but also to see a full picture of the future and a shared understanding for getting there.

During a recent engagement, a company efficiently identified its future vision, current state, and actionable steps in just a couple of hours through the guidance of a fractional leader facilitating the Future State Visualization process.

Outline of the Approach

1. Look to the Future: Get a sticky note or use a visual tool to map out what the future looks like. When teams lay out these sticky notes and discuss them, they often find significant differences in perception and thinking. A facilitator adds an additional layer to this step by helping the team use clear language that everyone understands.

2. Move onto Current: Include sticky notes for current activities that align with the shared future vision. This method helps companies identify what is relevant and meaningful for their future. It often leads to insights, with comments like "I never considered this perspective" or "This has been more valuable than the past six months." It also helps people with strained relationships find common ground. Focus solely on activities related to the shared future vision and disregard suggestions about immediate changes.

3. Actions to Take: Throughout the process, participants might come up with actions to take. If so, write them down but hold off on discussing them until after the Future and Current stages are completed. Once those stages are finished, start identifying actions required to bridge the gap between the current situation and the desired future. This isn't about dwelling on problems or what isn't working. Instead, focus on creatively brainstorming ideas to move the company forward. This stage often reveals misconceptions and helps teams unify around common language and knowledge. It's where empathy and curiosity within the company become evident.

Once the visual map is completed, it will typically have sticky notes in the Future, Current, and Actions sections.

It's common to see lines connecting related items or stacks of related items arranged in columns or rows. This is all part of the process.

Next, take the visual map and use it to develop initiatives based on the actions identified. Clearly articulate the current state of the company and where it aims to go.

This step helps translate the insights from the visual map into actionable plans that drive the company toward its desired future.

Final Thoughts

A skilled facilitator can enhance the experience and draw out the most valuable insights. When facilitating, it's essential to use straightforward and clear language principles. Companies gain significant benefits from regularly revisiting and engaging in the Future State Visualization exercise, especially when welcoming new leaders. This practice ensures that everyone is aligned and working towards the same goals.

Future State Visualization helps keep the company unified and focused on the same objectives, ensuring that everyone is rowing in the same direction.


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