Organization Change – On the Horizon

Posted by: on December 21st, 2020

What is on your horizon?

More of the same? My guess is that is highly unlikely!

I think the Three Horizons Framework* perfectly captures three perspectives you all juggle: the manager; the innovator; and the visionary.

Horizon 1 (H1) represents the ways we do things to “git her done” and the status quo.
Horizon 3(H3) is that far away vision that we see but is so hard to realize.
Horizon 2 (H2) is where we find challenges, setbacks but also small successes. This is also the bridge between H1 and H3.

We know we are working in H2 when we can identify the incremental changes that move us forward. We try to avoid the disruptions which could potentially land us back into H1 out of fear or resistance.

Because H3 represents a horizon full of uncertainty, it requires innovations that may or may not work, may result in false starts or require some re-engineering.

If you are like me, you may enjoy talking about the H3 horizon, but in reality, we all know H3 requires a bridge to get there. That bridge is the H2 horizon. People will walk over that bridge at different times but when they do, we must be ready to meet them.

Moving our organizations to new horizons requires us to think about what to hold on to and what to let go of. As we make incremental changes (H2 innovations) we may find we actually slow the progress toward the “ideal” H3 horizon, but this is part of the bridge building.

A Three Horizons Perspective can help us differentiate what is moving us forward or holding us back. Where we see setbacks, we can learn to see opportunities and to re-engage the questions, such as:

  1. What current practices are now or will soon be unsustainable?
  2. What are the disruptions that will help evolve the organization forward without going too far?
  3. What stories or organization narratives describe each of the horizons?

H2 is the horizon that helps us to build the bridge and steady the gaze toward the future.

*If you would like to learn more about The Three Horizons Framework, you might start here:

About Nancy J. Hess

I help leaders pioneer extraordinary change through high engagement and whole systems approaches that focus on HR and People.