Daily Inspiration: “Never look back – the road is forward.”


“Never look back – the road is forward. If you spend too much time reflecting on what’s been done, you’re not spending enough time on what could be done.” – Futurist Jim Carroll

Far too many people arrive in the future without ever knowing how they got there.  That’s because they’ve been too busy looking back! Part of the problem is that they are ‘forward-oriented’ : fully aware of and ready for the future.

Don’t take my word for it. Take a survey:

According to an extensive Korn Ferry study — capturing the sentiment of nearly 800 investors and including a detailed analysis of more than 150,000 leaders — corporate leadership is ill-prepared to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

As part of Korn Ferry’s comprehensive Self-Disruptive Leader* study, 795 investors were queried in a global survey.

The result: two thirds (67 percent) say that today’s private-sector leadership is “unfit” for the future.

Failing the Grade: Investors World-Wide Say Current Corporate Leadership is ‘Unfit’ for Future, a Major Korn Ferry Study Finds
12 March 2019, Business Wire


Granted, it’s from 2019, and one might think things have changed a bit since then, but maybe not. The survey goes on to reveal that (obviously) the CEO is critical to overall success, but goes on to note that investors value the ability of a CEO to plan for the future, rather than their past success. Looking forward, not back.

This is concerning, given the importance of corporate leadership to investors: 78 percent insist the CEO is critically important when deciding in which companies to invest, and 83 percent cite an exceptional CEO as critical to an organization’s success in disruptive times.

Investors see the intense need for future-ready leaders, with two-thirds (66 percent) saying they value future vision and orientation over past performance. Sixty-nine percent say the need for transformation is going to make leadership more important to company performance within the next three years.

Failing the Grade: Investors World-Wide Say Current Corporate Leadership is ‘Unfit’ for Future, a Major Korn Ferry Study Finds
12 March 2019, Business Wire

How bad is it? Really bad.

As part of the global Self-Disruptive Leader study (and further validating investor sentiment), Korn Ferry delved into 150,000 leadership profiles worldwide. The results were even more staggering: The analysis revealed that, on average, only 15 percent of executives across the globe have what it takes be truly great leaders in the rapidly-changing business world.

Failing the Grade: Investors World-Wide Say Current Corporate Leadership is ‘Unfit’ for Future, a Major Korn Ferry Study Finds
12 March 2019, Business Wire

The study goes on to identify that the old command-and-control leadership style no longer cuts in a fast-moving world.

For the last hundred years, leaders have been taught that control, consistency, and closure are the principles of business leadership. But dramatic changes to the global business environment mean that this is no longer sufficient–trust, purpose and energizing others are now central, ” says Dennis Baltzley, Korn Ferry’s global solution leader for leadership development and co-author of the new report, The Self-Disruptive Leader.

The study argues that today’s disruptive forces in technology, globalization, demographics and consumer behaviour are exposing the limitations of legacy leadership worldwide.

As we accelerate further into the age of disruptive technology, competitor landscapes are evolving more quickly than ever before,” said Tu. “Self-Disruptive Leaders who can continually adapt to keep pace with the market are the key to success in today’s disruptive environment, but not all business leaders are ready for the challenge.”

That’s why I always emphasize the idea of establishing forward-oriented innovation culture — ensuring that we are on the cutting edge in terms of what might be impacting us tomorrow, so that we don’t sit back, Homer-Simpson-like, saying “d’oh, what happened?”

The reality that any CEO faces today is a rapidly changing landscape – and you need to know what comes next in order to turn it into an opportunity. Products go out of date faster, skills become more irrelevant faster, business models shift quicker, customer expectations accelerate at a greater pace, new competitors now emerge at blinding speed, and the scope and speed of required R&D keep increasing faster. Name just about any metric, and today’s CEO and senior executive have to deal with a greater number of challenging issues and need to do it at a pace that is nothing like it was yesterday. Speed demands that they be aware of it before it’s too late -m they need to know what’s next.

It will only get faster – that’s why the word agility and speed has dominated the corner suite for some time. And that’s why the ability to “See Disruptive Trends” is at the top of the list of what I provide my clients.

  • SEE DISRUPTIVE TRENDS: you’ll better understand the trends that will impact you in the near and longer-term
  • FOCUS ON OPPORTUNITY: you will achieve clarity on the trends that really matter
  • ALIGN TO DISRUPTION: you will shift your thinking to the actions that really matter
  • UNLOCK CREATIVITY: you will discover that it’s buried in your teams – and how you can let it out
  • ACHIEVE AGILITY: you will learn more about the role of fast-teams
  • ENHANCE YOUR SPEED: you will discover how to better align to our faster future
  • ACCELERATE INNOVATION: you will find ways to rethink your strategic pipeline
  • COLLABORATE MORE: you will maximize the benefit of your internal idea factory
  • DELIVER ON GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES: you shift from reactive defense to disruptive offence

So what does this mean for you?

Remember – there are three types of people.

Those who watch the future happen.

Those who make the future happen.

And those who sit back after it has happened, failing to notice its sweeping impact, and say ‘what happened?’

The second group win – because they know what’s next, and what to do about it.


THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THOSE WHO ARE FAST features the best of the insight from Jim Carroll’s blog, in which he
covers issues related to creativity, innovation and future trends.