Get ready for faster change. To thrive today, organizations need bold thinking and exciting stories that spark innovation. This article shares how visionary dreams of a better future can stretch your team’s imagination. Learn how leaders can motivate change and progress through inspirational narratives. Discover how sharing inspiring tales can propel your organization forward.
Everything around us accelerates, growing more and more temporary, novel, and diverse. Each passing day this accelerates even further.
Products, jobs, technologies, relationships, and even principles, do arrive, establish themselves for a (little) while and then pass away as lightning trends; no time for any nostalgia.
In such a situation it’s quite hard for people to actively relate with what happens around them, find its meaning and reorient and anchor their behaviors and actions, when the floor is constantly shifting.
In contexts like this, how organizations can, instead of suffering, drive change and innovation?
How can they switch from surviving to thriving?
Utopian ideas: unfolding the new
To make it clear: we love being concrete, pragmatic and to find actionable solutions.
However, we also know that creativity cannot be unleashed in case of too much restrictive constraints. As the old adagio says we need to “think out of the box”, and to imagine brand new situations, contexts, futures able to inspire new ideas.
Alvin Toffler, American writer and sociologist (October 4, 1928 – June 27, 2016) believed that being visionary, by pushing it to the extreme of having utopian visions of ideal futures, could be the greatest tool we have available to guide us and organizations through chaos and inspiring change.
The power of utopias lies not in perfectly predicting the future, but in helping people expanding the horizons of the possible. Utopian ideas remind us that the status quo is not fixed, or at least not forever: we can reimagine our current reality, institution, rules, norms, habits, thoughts.
When we exercise our minds with utopian dreaming of prosperity, sustainability and, why not, happiness and equity, we see and fuel the dissatisfaction with the world as it is right now.
This invites, pushes if not propels, us to turn those “dreams” into reality. It creates the right urgency for the change to happen, and even if those ideals remain difficult to catch, shifty or elusive. If we persist, we will get closer, day by day, step by step.
Utopias should inspire us, our minds, out hearts. Visions where humanity lives in harmony with the planet and where we devote technology and resources to unlocking human potential, creativity, and compassion, should be the world we aspire everyday.
Stories: bridging imagination to change
Utopias need to become reality, otherwise they remain a sterile exercise: utopias.
Here, stories, comes into play as the one of the best tools to shape, mold the future. As Yuval Noah Harari revealed, the myths, ideologies and narratives that we tell, shape our identities, norms, environments and, thus, the future.
Humans think in stories, and we try to make sense of the world by telling stories – Harari
Great stories have the potential to transform utopian ideas into reality by engaging people in seeing new possibilities, imaging how to reach them and coordinating collective action.
And leaders have a key role here.
When skilled and charismatic leaders create and tell stories promoting visions, which are fascinating while realistic in their achievement, in that exact moment they are modelling the new future, actually catalyzing change. By binding people to a shared purpose, they are converting thoughts into movements.
They become energy attractors, like what magnets do with iron powder: they coagulate energy, intentions, activities, which can then be addressed toward new innovative paths.
Of course, caution is needed; stories can divide, create harm or regression when intentionally (badly) manipulated. But if created and told responsibly, they help science and technology to write further great chapters of human history.
Think to he renewable energy revolution.
Although the path is still impassable, it shows how visionary thinking can remake, reshape, remodel if not the entire society, big pieces of it.
And beyond that, what about the Digital Revolution, enabled by extraordinary innovations unthinkable just a few years before, which did connect, and still is connecting, us all in unprecedented ways, opening up new opportunities for people to share, care and innovate.
Not to mention Biotech and AI that are already transforming medicine, healthcare, transportation, education and more.
The future awaits to be discovered.
Much of the reality we have today was born in the heads of people who were once singled out as crazy, visionary, naive or inconclusive.