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Anticipate Tomorrow’s Impact Today.

Cultural Cartography - Preparing A Future Organisational Landscape


As a 90’s teenager, I thrived in the expansion of home computers and personal gaming. Before Fortnite (and wireless internet), avid gamers would link computers together, LAN gaming late into the night. The crowd favourite? Command and Conquer.

If you don’t remember or are too young to know what I’m talking about, Command and Conquer was a strategy game. Get your guys working, build some bigger weapons, crush the enemy. You know, stuff teenage gamers love.

One feature I both loved and loathed was the map. The map - when you started - was black. It showed you and a small area around you, but no other details.

To get good at Command and Conquer, to win, you had to explore. You had to push the boundaries of the map. And occasionally you had to sacrifice. You might lose a few soldiers trying to explore the map for new resources or to discover where your opponents were building their camp.

To lose at Command and Conquer was easy. Stick to what you can see on the map, don’t explore, and wait for your opposition to wipe you out.

We lose in business if we don’t know what’s coming on the map.

Stagnation is the enemy of discovery.

Organisations can not afford to stick to what’s known. If we hold to the “map of now,” we’ll get wiped out. 

What got you here won’t get you there
— Marshall Goldsmith

It’s imperative we engage in a little cultural cartography. We have to learn to look into the black, to go beyond the horizon of our comfort.

What don’t we know? What resources are out there, currently hidden? What enemies (competition, innovative technologies, changing markets) do we not yet see?

How (or what) might we need to sacrifice to engage in a little cultural cartography? To dig into the unknown a little further?

Perhaps it is a conference we’ve never attended. Especially if its in a similar yet unrelated industry. What could law firms learn from chartered accountants? Or builders?

Perhaps it is helping a young employee gain additional training. Even at the risk of losing them to a competitor. What might we learn about new technology to help us stay ahead?

Perhaps it is learning from the culture of those around us. How are market leaders taking care of their employees and their customers? Could we do something similar?

Don’t let what you can’t yet see keep you from exploring a little further. Push your boundaries. Risk finding a bigger map. Set your culture for where you want to go.