Leaders are paid to see the future. As I’ve written before, seeing the unseen is at the core of our job description. However, we also live with the on-going awareness the future we see doesn’t exist yet; but we know it can, if we build it.

Just recently, my team introduced the Chess Not Checkers concept to our organization. Within HOURS of sharing the principles and practices, we began to hear the question: What’s next? What’s AFTER High Performance Organizations?

Are you surprised? I was not – see the first paragraph… people expect leaders to know what’s next. Do you know what is next for your organization? If not, I would encourage you to think Five Years Out – some refer to this as the tangible future. What do you want to be true in five years that is not true today?

Without a destination, or goal in mind, there is no way to establish credible strategies; and without agreed upon strategies, there is no way to select appropriate tactics. Without clear goals and strategies, every tactic is of equal value. Without clarity regarding your destination, your organization can only tread water.

What should Five Years Out look like for your organization and how do you decide? Here are a few ideas to help you get started.

Start LONG term. Five Years Out may be a helpful time horizon but it is not long term. It is medium-term at best. What do you want to be true in your business or organization in a decade? Once you have clarity on the answer to that question, Five Years Out merely becomes a milestone on a longer journey. If you don’t know your ultimate desired destination, waypoints are virtually impossible to identify.

Consider your options. As you consider the future, over the next five to ten years you can pursue many options. You can create new products, services or capabilities; you can enter new markets, cultivate new customers, and more. As you consider the future, don’t work from a limited worldview. Work diligently to escape your current reality and say, “What if…?”

Weigh the costs. After the brainstorming and ideation I just described, you’ll need to think about the resources at your disposal. Do you have the people and the financial resources to build your version of the future? I hope not. Yes, that’s right, I hope your preferred future is bigger than your current resources – if not, it’s probably not big enough. One of the challenges I have given my teams over the years is this: “Money follows big ideas.”tweet_bird What’s yours?

Choose your destination. With all the above in consideration, make the call. Declare your intentions. Begin to cast your vision. Share it with everyone who will listen – and some who won’t. The details may not be fully formed, but don’t wait. As the picture becomes clearer in your heart and mind, you can update your story and tell it again. The more people you tell, the more support you can garner.

After y0u’ve chosen your destination, the fun part begins – you and your team have the opportunity to create the future you’ve imagined. But you cannot build what you cannot envision. Leadership always begins with a picture of the future. What’s yours?[GLS_Shield]

What do you want to be true Five Years Out?

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Author: Mark Miller

Mark is a business leader, author, communicator, photographer, husband, and father. He spends his time helping leaders grow.