In a handful of sources ranging from Strategy+Business to a book by Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan to a blog entry by John Patterson to the BoardSource newsletter, the term "default future" is emerging to describe what we believe to be true–our concept of the most likely case–about our future. For example, in tough times, the default future for many of us is to work harder, save money, keep our heads down, and hope for the best. In our caution, we end up regressing to more primitive and desperate behaviors, rather than engaging in the type of creative and innovative thinking and acting required by the times.
What these sources point to is the self-fulfilling tendency that goes along with default future conceptualizations. We–collectively on boards or individually as leaders–act in ways that unwittingly bring about the default, in effect closing ourselves off to other possibilities. Patterson's blog nicely and concisely summarizes the questions useful in catalyzing a shift out of default thinking.
"Default future" is a nifty new entry in the organizational lexicon; one that is quickly making its way up the various indices of web search terms. Besides just sounding nifty, it begs the question of whether there are other non-default options. What's your sense of the default future ahead of you or your organization? If the default seems unsavory, then what must you and others do now to realize a different outcome?