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5 minute read

A Three-Step Guide to Immersing Yourself in the Future

Dr. Thomas Vande Zande
5 minute read

Walking down the street, a passerby congratulates Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos on another good quarter that Amazon just reported. Jeff’s response is a quick thank you, but in his mind, he thinks to himself, that quarter was something conceptualized and planned three or more years ago.  

Jeff and his senior leaders live and work in the future. He said so himself in an interview with The Economic Club of Washington D.C. in September of 2018. But what exactly does that mean?

Thinking Years Ahead

Amazon’s senior leadership isn’t planning, strategizing, and working on products and services that will make their customers happy today; those offerings were already fully-baked upwards of three or more years earlier. Amazon’s teams are working in the future. Understanding the tectonic areas of change such as technology and socio-demographics, they are adapting existing business models and creating new ones to impress their current and future customers while disrupting and destroying their competition three years or more from now.

Amazon’s ongoing success is a proof that elite companies and organizations place a high value on understanding and totally immersing themselves in the future to achieve their preferred future outcomes and success. It’s not all about planning, it’s about being able to see and feel what the future needs and then providing it.

Not immersing in the future is holding one’s company back and subjecting it to more operational fires and disruption as time goes on.

How to Immerse Yourself in the Future

While some companies are still putting out fires from yesterday’s messes, others are taking the first steps to turn things in a different direction. Here are three easy and repeatable, yet critical, steps to immersing your leadership team in the future.

Step 1: Identify What is Driving Changes in the Future

Pick something from a tectonic area (mentioned in our last post here) today that is driving change in the future.


  • Technology: Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Big Data
  • Socio-Demography: Gen X Habits, Baby Boomers and Tech
  • Political: Trade Tariffs, Energy War, Healthcare Changes, Brexit
  • Economic: Interest Rates, Labor Availability

Step 2: Identify What is Actually Changing

What changes do you see around the tectonic areas identified in step 1? Do the changes pose a threat or advantage 12 months or 3 years, or more, from now? Start searching in news articles and other sources you would not typically scan for changes and things that raise your eyebrows or make you say “hmm, that’s interesting” or “I never thought of that.”

Step 3: Add Critical Context

From the changes you see, what could they look like in 1, 3, 5, or even 10 years? Add feeling and emotion to the future outcomes of the changes. What does it truly look and feel like?

All three steps aim to establish a core understanding of what could be in the future and what is causing it all today. This is key to immersing yourself in the future. You can use this immersion to help guide current and future decision-making and consideration for future plans in your company.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else”
Yogi Berra (1925-2015) - Hall of Famer & New Age Philosopher

Think you may already be on the right track? Email us what you and your teams are doing to immerse your company in the future. We love to hear about great companies using future-thinking techniques to achieve their goals. Or, feel free to email us at for some free perspective on what you could do to help better align yourself, your team, and your company with your preferred future. We hope to hear from you soon!

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