The past doesn't represent out future - so why do we spend so much time focused on it? Maybe we can see more clearly in the rear view mirror. After all, hindsight is 20/20. Maybe it's because we're searching for facts as the basis of our planning - and facts do live in the past and present. Future facts are, well, nebulous.
Maybe it's a habitual thinking pattern that we pass along from generation to generation. After all, when someone asks who we are - we tell them about our past and present. How often do we share where we are going as a way of introducing ourselves?
The future is a fuzzy thing - unknown, out of our control. The past is known and, well, we certainly control it now. We can even change it to match what we want to believe or prove.
Our fascination with the past can limit our future success.
Using the past to predict the future is a commonly accepted way of thinking and planning in business. Unfortunately it leaves a lot of opportunity on the table, especially when change is a constant. The past does have great value and an important place in our corporate thinking. We learn valuable lessons from our past mistakes and successes - knowledge that we can apply to our current and future situations. We just need to keep the proper perspective.
While we're taking stock of the past, everything has already changed.
When we model the past, project it into our future and then base our business decisions on those projections - we're betting our business on 'facts' that are often far past their prime. The market we served, that competitor we knew how to beat are different now. What was high value six months ago may be 'me too' today.
Our future is in our possibilities and potential, not in our past givens.
When we focus on what could be, we think and act differently than we do when focused on what's a given. We expand our horizons, transform our thinking from the limited status quo to the future's unlimited opportunity. We open the doors to new possibilities.
An important part of strategy and planning is a focus on what can be. Instead of asking "What was?", try a new approach. Gather up your experience and learning. Then do something different.
Look to the future and ask... 'What If?'