“Chief Futurist Officer (CFO): A uniquely creative individual who advises you as to where you are going to be tomorrow – and what you must do to make sure you succeed once you get there!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
It’s an odd state of affairs, when you think about it – most companies today are structured for future-failure.
They have senior executives with lofty titles who manage the money, staff and human resource issues, legal matters, marketing, procurement, project management. These folks scurry about, keeping busy managing the status quo, taking care of the issues of the day, making sure that things run smoothly. Few of them spend their day thinking about what comes tomorrow and what they need to do to get there. None of them see their compensation based upon future-oriented strategies thinking.
The Board of Directors? Nope. The typical Board skills matrix and committee structure includes legal, HR, finance, executive compensation, corporate governance and other mundane matters. I have yet to see a Board that has someone specifically charged with the responsibility of providing appropriate governance insight as to what comes tomorrow, and what the company needs to do about it. The result is that most boards are structured for future-failure too.
What about the CEO? He or she is ostensibly responsible for all matters related to strategy. And yet, history is littered with failure within the office of the CEO. Here we go: Kodak, Sears, Blockbuster RIM/Blackberry …. hubris seems to the common character trait of many of the CEO’s I’ve met over the years.
The result is most often a clear failure with the future? As it has been for the last 100 years, many of the top companies in the world today are tomorrow’s disruptive wreckage.
Need proof? Take a look at automative companies – we’ve been telling them for close to 20 years that the future is electric, built upon an eco-system of connected cars that are more akin to a smartphone than today’s unintelligent devices, with direct-to-consumer sales rather than a cumbersome dealer network. Most of them have charged ahead in denial, and are now scrambling to adapt to the fast pace being set by Tesla. (Caveat: Ford has a Futurist, Sheryl Connolly. I’m really not sure how much strategic impact she has had over the years.)
A Chief Future Officer? Maybe it is time you start planning for one! (And no, I’m not looking for a job. I’m quite comfortable doing what I’ve been doing for the last 30 years….)