About Future-Proofing Your Organization

For centuries work was a physical activity with a visible output.

But in the 21st century people are paid to think – to solve problems, make decisions, and lead organizations based on analyzing and synthesizing information.

Problem is – most people don’t really know how to do this.

Future-Proofing Your Organization outlines a process to develop thinking skills and thereby help organizations to develop the workers and leaders they need for success – today and in the future.

The book is organized in three parts.
Part I provides a look at the current state we find ourselves in – when and how thinking has denigrated, what learning truly is, and how we do it most effectively. Additionally it outlines what future business leaders, in particular, will need in terms of thinking skills for the next ten to fifteen years.

Part II examines what and how we need to teach thinking skills. It discusses the need for ongoing curriculums, not one-hit training classes, and outlines the most important topics our future leaders will need to have as a basic skill set in order to lead confidently and competently.

Part III is full of tools to use immediately with your workers. There are two types of tools provided: Activities which help to utilize and stretch thinking skills and Case Studies which ask the reader to look objectively at well-known business foibles and analyze – what went wrong? What were the warning signs? What could have been done differently? And what should be the strategy moving forward?

YOU can have access to those same activities and case studies here.

About the Author: Dr. Nanette Miner

Author of "Future-Proof Your Organization"
Dr. Nanette Miner

Why did you decide to write this book now?

My last book was written in 2008 / 2009 and I swore after that one that I’d never write another book; it is an incredibly time consuming and painful process. However, in the last few years a real urgency has been building within me to get an important message out: We have become a nation that cannot think and that is going to have an unbelievably negative effect on the future success of corporate America.

I have been a training / learning / OD consultant for over twenty-five years, so I have a long horizon to reflect on.  Over that period of time, I have witnessed three things that have struck me as contributing to the demise of thinking skills in corporate America.

Training departments and budgets have been slashed to near-nothing. Training has become just-in-time rather than a true developmental process.

eLearning has grown exponentially and, unfortunately, eLearning is primarily a self-directed activity. There is only so much one can teach themselves. True learning comes from collaborating with others.

I see companies designing their training to accommodate a generation that doesn’t like to work too hard to learn (or doesn’t know how to – there is a chapter in the book that explores why and how people have lost the ability to learn). I have had clients ask me to reconfigure an eight-hour class to ninety minutes. I’ve been told to eliminate pre-work because no one does it anyway. In classes that have multiple meetings I’ve been asked to eliminate or reduce the number of hands-on assignments participants are to complete between class sessions because it’s “too much” to ask of them.

I think we have a perfect storm of circumstances in the field of workplace learning that will culminate in a disaster if we don’t work immediately to change how we approach employee development and change how people learn once they’ve left formal education.

How did you arrive at the title of the book?

Admittedly it is a very long title; but I feel that it explains exactly what the purpose of the book and the curriculum is about.  Businesses are facing a very real precipice when it comes to their future viability. With the Boomers leaving the workforce (statistically they will be all gone by 2030) and the fact that companies cannot find enough people with the right skills today – the problem is only going to get worse. Organizations are losing their most skilled employees and doing very little to fill the pipeline with prepared replacements.  So I see a real need to protect the future of businesses – hence Future-Proofing.

You’ve spent years researching and developing a “thinking curriculum.”  It seems like this is quite personal for you.

It is. I love business. I have loved it since I first started working at age 11. In the last 2+ decades I have seen businesses hobbled or felled by recessions, wars, economic downturns, and weather events. I’ve seen entire industries rise up and subsequently disappear. While some challenges are unpredictable it’s important to have a risk management plan for when they DO happen.  In the case of having a well-developed future workforce – the disaster is not only predictable but there is an option to prevent it – if we start today. I’ve developed a risk management plan and I want to help companies to implement it in order to save themselves from the impending crisis.

You’ve written that time is of the essence. Why the sense of urgency?

The workforce has changed substantially in the last few decades.

In the era of Boomers, people stayed at a company for decades. They learned the business from the ground up. They have well-developed business acumen.

As the Boomers are leaving, they are being replaced with a large population of highly educated Millennials (and GenZ) who don’t have the skills that businesses are looking for AND who define a long-term job assignment as 3 – 5 years. When they don’t stay at a company they don’t develop in-depth knowledge about the business, the industry, the customer, etcetera.  Companies lose their ability to be agile and adaptive when they lose depth and breadth of experience.

The Thinking Curriculum not only develops the short-term abilities that companies need, but it gives employees an incentive to spend their career at one organization. It’s a win-win approach.

It almost sounds as if you are talking about starting a movement.

Indeed! It would be great if we could make this a movement. I certainly can’t do it by myself. I see my role as enlightening corporate leaders to see the impending disaster that is just a few years away (in corporate terms, 10 or 15 years is truly just a few years).  The most prescient leaders will put the success of their organization’s first and work to ensure its long-term viability.

You know how a few companies (Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, JPMorgan Chase) have decided to put their minds to solving the health insurance crisis that is beating down their organizations? Their thinking is “there has to be a better way and we CAN do something about it.” I envision a similar coup – a few enlightened companies will realize time is of the essence and willingly turn their big ships around. Eventually other companies will see the light as well.

What would success for a thinking curriculum look like in 5 or 10 years?

I love this question. In 5 – 10 years success will mean that companies are not constantly battling turnover because people see career possibilities where they currently are. It means all employees will understand  the business strategy and how it makes money. Individuals will be able to make well-reasoned and sound decisions, they will be able to work collaboratively with other individuals and disciplines in the organization to do what is in the best interest of the organization.

What’s Next

The book is a high level overview of the process and what it can accomplish for both individuals and organization’s alike. For more information on the curriculum itself, go here…