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The business of housing can easily become a game of economics, numbers predicting the cycles, the prices, the customer demographics. Leaders can just as easily get wrapped up in basing long term strategy on those numbers instead of thinking about new directions or applying the strength of their organization to challenge convention. How can housing leadership change?

I spent the day yesterday with one of my favorite client groups. They're the senior team of part of a major media company, and they are smart, funny, curious, talented and kind people. The quote above was on the introductory page of a deck they had put together outlining their vision of change for the coming year.

In addition to the fact that they're such delightful human beings, I love working with this group because they're actually operating according to this quote. While lots of people in media (and many other industries) are wringing their hands, refusing to engage in real planning because the future seems so unpredictable, and others are blithely setting aggressive financial goals, expecting that doing the same things they've always done will somehow get them there, these folks are making the future their own. They're saying, in effect, "Here's the direction we think things may be heading - and here's our response to that."

I think this distinction between predicting the future and inventing it is an important one. I often get the feeling that we all believe that business success in this day and age depends on having some kind of a crystal ball: on being able to know with a high degree of certainty what's going to happen, and then create a business solution that's tailored to that correctly-predicted future. For instance, we assume that Mark Zuckerberg, 10 years ago, somehow magically knew what the world was going to be like in 2013, and said to himself, "Since the world of communication will be hugely centered on social media in ten years, if I start this now, I can have over a bilion users by 2013."

No. In 2003, he started something called 'facemash' at Harvard, where he was a student. It was a website where he put up photos (which he had hacked from the 'facebooks' put out by each of Harvard's resident houses) of two students side-by-side, and invited other students to rate who was hotter. He got a lot of response, and based on that, decided to write the code for the website that would become Facebook FB +0.89%. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about it:

In January 2004, Mark Zuckerberg began writing the code for a new website, known as 'thefacebook'. He said in an article in The Harvard Crimson that he was inspired to make Facebook from the incident of Facemash: "It is clear that the technology needed to create a centralized Website is readily available ... the benefits are many." Within twenty-four hours, [they] had somewhere between twelve hundred and fifteen hundred registrants.

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