I’ve always been impressed with the writings of management consultant, author and former professor at the Claremont Graduate School Peter F. Drucker. He once said that “the best way to predict the future is to create it.” In these times when the world is changing at such a rapid pace, it is difficult just to stay on top of what is happening. Giving attention to foresight, or thinking critically about what is coming down the road so that we can prepare for it, is not easy. One of the key functions of the Messiah Lifeways board of directors and leadership team is to spend time being educated about what is coming in our industry and society at large. That is important because often the preparations to make ourselves ready for the future may take many years to accomplish. Because of this, board members and leaders who set plans in motion often are not around when the plans become reality. In a sense, exercising foresight is a selfless action to assure that others are served in a better way in future decades.
Here’s a practical example of this kind of foresight. Several months ago our township replaced the sewer line across the Messiah Village campus. This resulted in a 30-foot wide strip of bare ground that took out a number of trees that were quite large. A group of residents with an affinity for gardening took it upon themselves to work with our grounds director to plant 79 small trees and seedlings, with more to come. How appropriate, especially since it is Arbor Day when I am writing this blog. I find it inspiring that these persons in their older years have the foresight to prepare shade and color for the next generations here. It will likely take several decades for these trees to grow sufficiently to benefit others. The value to the gardeners is primarily intrinsic, but that was not a deterrent for them. That is a good outcome for having a foresight focus. That is creating the future, as Drucker speaks of.
In the next few months we will be opening the first phase of the Project Envision plan that the Messiah Lifeways Board of Directors and others had the foresight to begin planning almost a decade ago. This year, the board and leadership will make a focused effort to look further into the future and layout plans for the next 3-7 years and beyond. I find the process of discerning the future, establishing plans to prepare us for it and laying out steps to get us there as a stimulating exercise. With the end in mind, it is easier to persevere and flex plans when challenges arise along the way. We are laying foundations that others will build upon and the fruits of which even others will enjoy. Like the dedicated volunteer arborists above, we are creating the future we hope to see!