In this edition // Futurist Rohit Talwar and Higgidy CEO Rachel Kelley talk through their priorities when planning ahead – and why they matter. PLUS: designer Dom Bailey explains the three R’s – and they are not the ones you think.

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Our brains don’t all work in the same way.

What is chaos to one, is functioning creativity to another. What is rigour to one, is inflexibility to another.

So, even within a small team, approaches to planning and strategy will be different. And if you truly want diversity and the best possible outcomes for your business, then often they need to be different.

But, there is one thing that you should not compromise on. And it is something that every man, woman (and child?) in your organisation needs to be completely unified on: your priorities. Your mission and your vision is your priority. Your values are your priorities. Your targets and ideal clients and income goals are your priorities. Your social impact is your priority.

But how did you get there?

Prioritising means saying no, parking and putting aside. It means declaring that some things are important than others – and in the 21st century that can be HARD.

Keep on reading below to hear from some renowned leaders in their fields who have to make decisions every day about what to care about – and what not to. Their choices might surprise you.

First – recommended MUST READS on prioritisation – from friends of always possible:

Rohit Talwar on the big ideas we need to focus on

The CEO of Fast Future, and global futurist thinker is, ROHIT TALWAR, and his job is to help corporates and governments to prioritise for the future, based on what the current evidence tells us…

Trust, sustainability, technology, and talent. That is what we need to prioritse.

So let me just talk a little bit about each of them.

We’re moving into a space now where trust is everything in terms of our brand reputation, our relationships with our customers, and our relationship with our workforce and the other stakeholders we have? Does it build trust? Or does it reduce it in some way? And that’s from our customer interactions – to the content in our website, to the way we deliver our services, to the reporting we do back to clients. How clear are we in our communications? How good are we in our follow up?

And how much do we convey a sense of a no excuses culture, and an ownership culture where if we get things wrong, we’re really seen to own it and the solution to it. So all those things around trust and with the workforce is really about how we are straight with them.

Workforces aren’t stupid. They understand the world is changing, they understand technology is going to transform jobs, destroy existing jobs. They just want their employers to be straight to say, what are your plans? What are you thinking? And what are you doing to invest in me and my skills so that there’s a good balance between the effort I give you and the investment you make in me.

The second priority is around sustainability. I’m of the view that we really have to embed that in everything we do in our organisations, and start to think about zero as being the baseline. So it’s zero emissions and zero waste.

How do we make sure that all of our waste is recycled (and ideally on the property) and maybe converted to energy?

Within a couple of years we’ll be able to capture the motion of people walking through our buildings, and turn that into energy. So it’s really being forward thinking about how we get to a zero footprint on these things and make sure that everything we’re doing is sustainable.

The third is technology.

Really making sure that we are staying abreast of technological changes, whether it’s software applications in our sector, or broader developments such as artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies, what’s happening in terms of biology and human health. And really making sure we’re investing some time to understand these things, understanding how they’re developing, and the potential implications for us. We can’t just rely on our IT people to know this and to solve it for us.

We as business leaders need to be investing a significant amount of time to understand these thing so we can make informed choices, and not end-up backing the wrong horses, or not taking full advantage of the technologies that are coming through. And also thinking of that how we’re evolving the design of our organisation to take more and more advantage of the technology and the data we’re generating.

And the final one is talent.

And we can’t do any of the other things I’ve talked about without a real investment in our talent, developing the capacity of our people to learn, so that they are learning continuously. Giving them responsibility for their own learning and budgets for them to pay for whatever learning they feel they need to do.

But also supporting them in developing both the personal skills – like collaboration, team working, and stress management – through to the more technical skills like thinking in big picture terms, looking at the future, working on collaborative problem solving. And then the skills that are specifically related to our jobs, and really making that investment and encouraging our people to be learning the whole time.

What I would say is three issues always come up: One is we have too much on our agenda, we can’t prioritise. The second is that our technology isn’t doing what it needs to do for us, or we don’t have the right data. And the third is we don’t have the right people and skills.

So addressing those becomes critical to moving any business forward. And with prioritisation – a lot that is often around trying to do too many things with technology and not having the right people. So if we invest in getting the tech right, and getting the talent, right, then we can often get far better at the prioritisation and delivery of projects and programmes.

Rachel Kelley on the three priorities for business right now

Food manufacture Higgidy are a B-Corp, pushing the highest standards of ethics in the mass productions of pies and quiches. But how does CEO RACHEL KELLEY make decisions about what’s important, when there are so many pushes and pulls on her attention?…

There are three things for me that I believe that businesses can do to prepare for the future.

The first is building resilience into the business.

And I think one of the ways you can do that is about prioritising and being really, really laser focused about distilling what truly is important, and then resourcing accordingly. And I think creating ways of working, and structures that mean the right people can own the right issues, which allows the rest of the business to keep focusing on those priorities so that you’re not sort of pushed off track.

The second thing that I think businesses can do to help prepare for the future is be really clear about your business purpose. Unless you become a business that is more purposeful, that is going to attract a real broad church of people and capabilities and mindsets, then you will struggle to be as well prepared for the future.

The more purposeful our businesses, the more that people feel really engaged and proud of being part of it. When they understand ‘the why’, by putting time and commitment and energy into communicating what that purpose is, then you will be able to attract really great people to your business. And when you do that, I think that those people then become deeply committed to the outcomes of the business, and that they become even more creative, and energised to help solve future uncertainties.

The third thing that businesses can do is just fundamentally make sustainability one of your business priorities. We are in a climate emergency. Unless every single business plays a part, we will not be able to keep climate warming below one and a half degrees. And then I think everybody therefore should feel compelled to have a clear plan on carbon reduction. We have always actually had a bias towards veggies as part of our range. But we are being even more confident in how we will express that. So we are 70% of our range is either veggie or vegan, we’re committed to that being a minimum of 75% when we do do meat or fish. It’s either it’s sustainable, and it’s to the highest welfare standards.

If we build resilience, if you have a really clear business purpose and you create sustained sustainability is one of your business priorities will help navigate that that future.

Dom Bailey on the priorities when building a brand

Designer DOM BAILEY (and co-founder of Baxter & Bailey) is passionate about design – not just as a tool for creating looks, but as a process for making decisions. He has some fundamentals, when helping people make priorities when it comes to branding…

Brand strategy is just an interpretation of business strategy through the lens of communications, and an ambitious long term plan.

But we also understand the value of the phased approach, and good brand strategy and brand identity and communications can be very much the sum of the first foundation pieces that can be put in place to start building.

What I would say is in all of that is that I think it’s really important to be ambitious, and do that longer term vision plan. But it’s also really, really important to be realistic and pragmatic – to just understand how far you can go hard and fast.

So when you’re working with startup entrepreneurial business, real fast moving firms, technology startup, for example, that can move incredibly quickly. We’ve seen businesses that have gone from two people to 1500 people in 18 months. The fast pace of growth, which is very difficult to keep up with it within with a small team, has got to be realistic.

I think the most important priority is to invest in people. And that sounds like a really obvious thing to say. But training and development of people within business and organisations will always make a difference. Take time with recruitment and be really rigorous in the approach you take – to be sure that they’re the right people for the job. Sounds really obvious, but it is incredible how many people will fill a position because it needs filling – because they’re obsessed with growth and revenue and turnover.

We have this little mechanism, to help us prioritise our work. We call it the three R’s. And it’s not reading, writing, arithmetic – it is revenue, recognition and reward.

We’re a business. We’re a commercial enterprise. We need to make money, we need to make profit, we need to reinvest in the business and its growth So revenue will always be a priority.

But recognition is about what we’re doing to have an impact for the people that we’re doing for. Will it build the reputation of our agency – creatively, culturally, and sustainably?

And then reward is: does it feel good to work? Is it meaningful? Does it enrich us and our team in a really important way? And that is really key. You can’t always have all three in everything that you do, but these are questions we need to ask.

The always possible team provide award-winning workshops and strategy sessions for ambitious teams. We help businesses, charities and public services to make decisions about who they are, who they want to speak to, build influence and cut through the noise.

In each of these Insights newsletters on LinkedIn, we’ll draw on expertise from our team as well as very special guests from The Possibility Club podcast – who have practical suggestions and ideas on what could unstick a challenge in your work.

If you’re inspired by anything you read, and want to know how you could unlock potential in your business or charity, book an informal call in our online calendar.

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