Everything has its time, even the future

Marianne Levinsen, M.Sc. Political Science, futurist / 21. dec 2017

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven/ A time to be born, and a time to die/ a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted/ A time to kill, and a time to heal/ a time to break down, and a time to build up/ A time to weep, and a time to laugh/ a time to mourn, and a time to dance"

Ecclesiastes 3, verse 1-4

No matter your religious standpoint, the sentence “to every thing there is a season” has a certain universal significance. The feeling that everything has a time can be experienced in small glimpses, for example in the invisibility you feel as an adult when a group of youths meet and live intensely in their own shared universe. The feeling that hits you when you see mothers with their babies or recollect a time or a special scent that bring back memories from a bygone time.

Last week, I was at the cinema with my daughter, age 12, and her friend. Suddenly her friend exclaims, “Oh Asta! We experience so much together, even if we’re just catching a bus, walking 200 meter or whatever we’re doing, we always experience so much!”

Even though everything has its time, we should all, as human beings and not least as leaders, nurture and practice the childish wonder, the curiosity and sincere joy in the world, people, animals and experiences that come to us at all times throughout our days and lives. It’s without a doubt an invigorating thing for both the individual and a business.

On the other hand, there’s very much some other times when you have to understand that everything has its time. Often there’s a time for the visionary knight such as Don Quixote, to struggle forward to new goals and heights without a care for the practical obstacles that might be on the horizon. It sometimes happens that this type of leader gets stuck in a company or organization, because they don’t notice that the world around them has moved in a whole other direction. But at the right time, they are also the great innovators that break through with revolutionary new products or ways of doing things.

At other times, it’s the more down to earth and astute Sancho Panza. Here we find the loyal types, who have a practical view of reality. This type has been a wanted asset during the financial crisis, where a focused x-ray vision on economy, productivity and efficiency is and has been highly valued. These are often the leaders that restore companies to the right heading with the right goals in mind and in a state that fits how the world looks today. But they are also the leaders who forget, that visions are required to secure the organization in the future.

What determines the preferred leader type is often the board of directors, time, economy and the market and many other elements. Often you see these two types being alternated between in businesses and organizations. There’s one that runs full steam ahead and the second that follows the first and picks up the pieces and focuses the business.

In the labor market everything also has its time. The individual can feel it for themselves and over time. You can go from being the most wanted employee in your 30s and 40s to being considered someone who has had their time.

In the future labor market it’s essential that companies and organizations understand both that everything has its time and that there will come a new time, where other challenges and opportunities need to be seized. That’s why the idea and the understanding of anything having its time, is something all leaders should keep in mind every day, to be able to act on the future.

We know for example that the workforce’s size is reduced because of the population’s age composition and we are already experiencing a shortage of employees in some of the vocational and healthcare professional areas. So the time with lots of skilled, competent employees and employers who can pick and choose amongst many skilled candidates are running out in a number of areas.

That’s why the near future’s gaze should be focused ahead on the professions locally, regionally and globally and not least on the workforce’s composition in age and subject in the individual company and a strategy for securing the skilled labor in the future.

Last, but not least, it’s quite interesting if a company or organization can influence whether everything has a time. My claim is that businesses and organizations exactly need this strategic sense for the challenges and demands of the future, to secure that the business and organization also has a time in the long run.

Published here 2017

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