The Importance of Horizons

There is no data on the future.

Jeff deGraaf

Experts have evidence. Entrepreneurs have dreams.

Right now, it poses a challenge as anybody looking for funding on a new venture will know. The demand is for evidence; hard data, reassurance.

Sometimes I need to step back when things get confusing so I have around thirty “anchor” books I go back to and sit with on my desk. Books that have resonated, and are friends. They help me collect and organise my thoughts. Amongst them right now are Meditations by Marcus Aurelius; Orbiting the Giant Hairball by Gordon MacKenzie and Three Horizons by Bill Sharpe.

This last book by Bill Sharpe is particularly relevant right now. Part philosophy, part business it’s a great framework representing the the three horizons we tend to hold simultaneously – horizon one, the short term “here and now” of performance and commitment – a few years, at best. Horizon three – the long term of our aspirations for our grandchildten and their children, and horizon two, the tricky, liminal space of transition between the two, where what we do now no longer works well, and what is emerging is not yet clear.

If we’re being asked for evidence, data, and proof on a medium term project that changes things, we’re talking to the wrong people. Those for whom vision is marketing, but whose attention is on returns in the near term.

Right now, we need people to do the messy work in horizon two because they want to establish a base for a future they are unlikely to see.

The sub title of Three Horizons is “the patterning of hope”. It’s a good book to read right now.

There’s another book that will go on my list next week. I know because I’ve read an early copy.

We need people with values and vision right now.

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