The Future We Want Is Still At Hand

by Dr. Russ Ouellette, Managing Partner, Sojourn Partners


Our way of relating to each other seems to have slipped backwards a little. To know this, all I have to do is look at my Facebook feed.

Several years ago, my partners and I wrote a book (The Future of Everything: Strategies for Successful Business Behavior, 2015) that considered what organizations would look like and how they would work in the future. Based on research of past organizational theory, current social and business trends, and some formal research we did regarding relationships in the workplace, we discovered that our collective future really depends on how we all behave and relate. We also held several focus groups with different leaders asking them to articulate the best practices that worked well for them in their companies and forecast what they think their companies needed. The result was a very optimistic design of what work could be like in the future if we continued on our current organizational evolutionary track.

The outcome of all this playing and thinking was a vision for leaders, employees, partners, suppliers, etc. to behave better together with respect, trust and authenticity.  Seems obvious. We have great concepts being practiced like emotional intelligence, appreciative inquiry and mindfulness. And, it seems that the world was moving in that same direction. People were talking about big things like sustainability, inclusivity, education, change, creating great cultures at work that support the whole person - not just the one that shows up for a job. 

We were further encouraged by the millennial generation and how they approached their personal and work life as part of a greater community. The social tools they were creating and how they were incorporating these tools at work. The world was shifting too, paying attention to climate change, new methods of energy production, shared international trade and big solutions to sustain our cultures and our planet. All indications were that the future of everything depended on all of these things coming together through people working well together. We seemed to be evolving in a positive way.

For every positive opportunity, there is also a risk. During and after the recent events, like Brexit and our presidential election, it seemed as though all of these variables mentioned above were now working against us. Have we really created a sustainable environment for progress, inclusivity and great organizational cultures? Or has identity politics and the us-versus-them mentality so ingrained in the human condition that we can't find our way out of it?

Being an optimist I believe that we have positively evolved in our society and will continue to do so. All of these new realities of generation, demographics and social methods are working themselves out. To grow requires failure and setback, eventually leading reasonable people to adopt better methods and practices. As we learn to consume news, relate better, and share information, we will be compelled again to work together. For this to happen, we must demonstrate the thinking and behavior that we want to see in our society. We need to listen to each other, learn how to disagree, get more involved, be as engaged as we can, and always act with respect. So while we push back, lets do it respectfully, authentically and trust that those who we don’t agree with will eventually meet us somewhere in the future.

We must continue to move towards sustainability at work and in the world, creating positive relationships with those people we engage with inside and outside our companies. We will collaborate, innovate, and eventually find we can move forward using positive attributes to build, sustain and maintain great relationships at work. The future we want is still at hand, we just need to stay engaged in making it happen.

Dr. Russ Ouellette is the managing partner of Sojourn Partners, a Bedford-based executive leadership coaching firm.
He can be reached at (603) 661-4178 or He can also be twittered @RussOuellette or Facebooked –Sojourn Partners.