17160 Stephen Kalyta: Future Mapping

“Future Mapping mitigates our fear of the unknown by providing a constant refresh of where we are headed”

Article by 17160 Stephen Kalyta

If Einstein was correct when he said that “problems cannot be resolved from the same level of thinking that created them”, perhaps he would consider the method of Future Mapping as a means to rise above the problem. In Future Mapping, data is captured and analyzed more organically through the collective input from all stakeholders. The process is more than groupthink or consensus forming; it is idea building from the intended destination back to the current state or where the problem originates.

Future Mapping was created in Japan, home of Kaizen and Six Sigma. These two Process methodologies pioneered an age of absolute mechanical measure and adherence to strict key performance metrics for decades. It is ironic that Japan would lead a new leadership paradigm that is nearly a polar opposite to Kaizen’s mechanized processes, instead embracing soft skills like belief, intuition, and imagination.

In the “metaphysical world” of Future Mapping, imagination is the launch-pad for interstellar breakthroughs across a broad spectrum of real business cases from hair salons to the clean-up plan for the Fukushima reactor. The method is highly adaptive to the real world rather than restricting outcomes through Six Sigma’s constraints management. Future Mapping as a methodology is in direct contrast to my previous article on soulless leadership because future mapping has an altruistic dimension reinforcing the need for people to be happy with their creative contribution. In a results-oriented world, leaders respond first to what they see, rather than what they believe. Under this leadership paradigm, the belief system is patterned first against the group’s ideal outcome. The journey is “seen” through the lens of refinements and course corrections that could lead to a better outcome than what was originally conceived in the first place. This outcome is not the product of Newtonian physics but a quantum leap in performance management.

The process seems to cultivate a belief and commitment equivalency to landing a person on the moon while resulting in the cultivation of a solution to colonize Mars. In that respect, the Future Mapping process is quite remarkable in shifting the paradigm of high-performance modeling to a constant revisioning method that shifts the entire operating landscape. My intuition and 25 years of business experience would suggest managers would face a highly disruptive workplace under the Future Mapping model. Yet remarkably, in very large projects in dangerous environments like Fukushima, the old antiquated key performance indicator of productivity seemed to increase as a by-product of a larger aim under Future Mapping. Could it be that chaos is manageable because of the constant feedback to the wheel on which all hands remain firmly affixed and in control?

In this high-velocity rocket launch that is our daily reality, it seems Future Mapping mitigates our fear of the unknown by providing a constant refresh of where we are headed. Perhaps a cure for cancer, the obliteration of poverty and the eradication of dominance through conflict is merely one revisionist step away from a Future Mapping exercise. At least that is my belief…