Managing Toward the "Ideal Future"

While reading up on the psychology of religion this summer, I ran across a theologian who has reframed the way I think about business leadership: Jurgen Moltmann.

Moltmann wrote broadly about hope, and in a sense every business, and especially every new business, is a testament to hope â€" at the least, a hope for profits. The specific idea of Moltmann's that stuck with me involved two terms: the adventus (the ideal future) and the futurum (the expected future). Moltmann discussed these in terms of the church, but every entrepreneur I've ever met, and plenty of managers at established business, has both an adventus and a futurum in mind.

The problem in business (as in religion) is conflating the one for the other â€" if you think you're doing something radical and disruptive, you're after the adventus. If you think you're doing something that will fit well with where things are expected to go, you're following the futurum. But if you think the futurum is the adventus, well, you're probably settling for less than you could get. And if you can't tell your adventus from your futurum, you'd better hope your investors can't, either, because they usually aren't the same.