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With persisting talk of inflation and recession, many of our colleagues and clients are anticipating a slowdown period in which innovation takes a back seat to cost-cutting and downsizing. These pullbacks may test the nerve of many innovation leaders, but I’m here to tell you: there has never been a better time to lean into the challenges ahead.

But how to prepare for them? One thing we advocate to all of our partners is making an effort to develop their visualization skills.  This is a healthy routine that can not only position your company to emerge from the recession in a better position but move you closer to reaching your own personal goals. I’ve outlined some steps here that will help you develop and adhere to a visualization practice, but before we dig in, let me offer some encouragement for why, as an innovation leader, you might be better positioned than anyone to thrive in these unsteady times.

While it’s true that downturns in the economy historically equate to budget reductions, wise companies will often reallocate that money towards innovation efforts that a) reduce costs and b) develop new ideas for creating revenue. Who more than you are positioned to lead these efforts? Your tool set (low-code development, process mining, intelligent automation), combined with experience running design sprints that connect innovation to these technologies, is more important than ever for businesses looking to prosper in the next few years.

In a word, innovation teams are the tip of the spear for attacking the challenges that a shaky economy might create. But how do we shift out of that “the sky is falling!” mindset to one where we’re embracing our new opportunity to shine? I suggest that you lay the groundwork by developing a visualization routine that helps shift your perspective from fearful and reactionary to eager and strategic.

  • Step 1. Write It. Write it down as if it has already happened, even postdating it for that point in the future when you estimate you’ll be nearing your goal. Don’t be shy here. Visualize conquering your biggest, hairiest problems and achieving your wildest goals. Write down what you expect that experience will be like.  Go into detail. What does it feel like? What does it mean to you? What does it mean to your family?
  • Step 2. Believe It. This is not the time to undercut your dreams by worrying about what others might think about your vision or being overly conservative based on your own hesitations or fears. This is the time to really lean into your goals for both your personal and professional lives.  We all have our moments of cynicism, but it’s critical that we maintain and nurture our optimism. Innovation leaders know that it’s near impossible to sustain positive momentum around projects without it.
  • Step 3. Practice It. Now that you have detailed your visualization in writing, I challenge you to read it every day for at least 21 days (the amount of time behavioral scientists say is necessary to develop new habits). Read it, then close your eyes and visualize it. Envision your achievements, again leaning into the details. What does it feel like? What are you doing after reaching your goal? How are you getting there?
  • Tip. Add a soundtrack! I’ve found that playing music during my visualization exercises acts as a trigger for resetting my mind to that space and shifting my perspective towards making daily progress towards my goals. In some manner, these songs become the “theme song” for your visualization practice.

I wish you well in establishing and achieving the goals you set forth in your visualizations! Looking for additional help getting there? As always, I welcome your questions and feedback at clay@digitalfastforward.com. Better yet, set up a complimentary innovation leadership strategy call with me or a member of the Digital FastForward team today. I’d love to connect personally to hear your challenges, offer some recommendations, and help you build out a playbook for tackling your most pressing issues. Happy Innovating!