If you are an iPhone or iPad user, you likely have strong feelings about the newest update to your device. Recently, Apple launched iOS 7, which brought a radically different look and feel to the iPhone and iPad.
Some of the changes were welcome, and made perfect sense. Some of them, however, seem puzzling. Even if you don’t own an Apple device, you have probably heard about the new “flat” design of this update. If you haven’t, you can see it here: http://www.apple.com/ios/design/
What is interesting is that this update was not really designed for the present. It was designed for the future. The brains at Apple realized that for the projects they want to create long term, this new flat design would be necessary. For example, flat and simple is the only way they could make an “iWatch,” an iPhone-like device for your wrist. Also, flat and simple design would be a necessity for an iCar product—a computerized device that might one day go in your car. The same is true for a possible iTV—a simple design would work better there.
So, Apple made a radical change not necessarily thinking of the payoff it would bring now, but thinking that it puts them in the best possible situation to move forward rapidly in the future.
As leaders, thinking about the future is a critical part of what we do. Managers live in the here and now, but leaders must be focused on bringing the future to bear. Just as Apple’s leaders made present changes that position them for their desired future, we as leaders sometimes need to make changes in the present that will equip us for the future.