Be in the Front

(originally posted on Thinkers & Doers blog, 11/10)

Be in the Front

The revolution rolls on ahead, incessantly causing the disruptions that influence our present. Consultants and strategists rush forward to take a peek at the future (and potentially influence its direction), and then hustle back with our analysis. Like carnival barkers, from our step-stool soapboxes we can see the new way forward.  We work hard to lift our clients onto our shoulders just long enough for them to take a convincing glance, and for us, the strategists, to express the merits, the benefits, and the ample successes waiting for them down the road.

“But where’s the ROI?” They ask.

What’s the ROI of a revolution?”  I respond.

The ROI is to be there, at the front, in order to invent the ROI. It’s pre-ROI!

I want to define this space in front of the future as the “Leadership Value,” your “LV.” Before we can get to ROI we need to get your LV.

Envision the future as a speedboat racing through placid water. The boat rushes forward, propelled by the incessant weave of economic, social and cultural factors. In the still water before the boat is the clean slate, the tablet to write the future. Behind the boat is the churning wake, the activity that defines our here and now. We want to be in the still water in the front of the boat. We want our clients to be there with us. We want to see the water the boat is cutting into, to position our clients at the sweet spot.

When clients ask me, “Should we invest in mobile?” I want to answer, “Yes, mobile is important, but it’s driven by a future further ahead of us. To better answer your question we need to see clearly. Let’s get to the front, get your LV set, and the answer will be strongest.”

If we’ve done our job well, we’ve brought our clients to the front, and put them into a positively active position where they are maintaining a presence in the stillness. They are in the lead; they are creating the lead. From there they can see all vantages: the future, the movement of the revolution, the wake and the distant past.

We can then plan for the future while building products for the entire market: the early and late adopters. Our vision is clearest when we’re in the lead.

Build your LV, and the ROI will follow.