Rethinking the Future

20120715-142022.jpgRob Hahn and I spend a lot of time going back and forth about the current state of the real estate industry and its future. We both write and talk about it, and spend our time in conversation with people that have great influence in the industry, some of who have practiced real estate and many of whom have not.

Disruption is the focus of much of the conversation and the effects of outside economics, possible game changer startups, and the membership of the National Association of REALTORS. A constant them is the lack of connection between the membership on a local level, and the association at the national level.

It seems that all of that may be destined to change. NAR’s leadership team and staff, through the strategic planning committee embarked on a journey last year that promises to be a landmark event for the real estate industry. That’s right, the real estate industry, not the association, not just its members, not even the consumers whose lives are intertwined with our sales, rentals, commercial, industrial, land, and resort specialties.

In 2011, CEO Dale Stinton, President Ron Phipps, and President Elect Moe Viessi met with Shannon W. King, then Chair of the Strategic Planning committee to start a journey to R=rethink the future of the real estate industry. Hiring Charles Holmes, a consultant from British Columbia and his team of facilitators who had previously worked on projects such as Coca Cola, Quaker, Foods, Pepsico and most recently the Canadian Real Estate Association’ s (CREA) Futures Project, they envisioned a strategic plan created through interaction with 20,000 stake holders from all parts of the industry.

The real estate industry and all of the stake holders involved in it will be impacted by NAR’s investigations and the resultant planning, and it is intended that they be part of the information gathering. By including larger groups of people with varied backgrounds and agendas, it is hoped that new perspectives and directions can be reviewed and included.

Previously , NAR’s strategic planning had been the conventional type of planning where a group of volunteer leaders with substantial experience in the industry and the associaiton would meet annually, discuss their perceptions of the future, how they felt the association could best meet them, develop a plan, and then present the plan to the leadership team for execution by the association staff, volunteer leadership and members. The Rethink initiative is different. Through the use of scenario planning, people will be asked for their input about the future of the real estate industry as played out in three industry specific scenarios and two scenarios involving societal shifts. In the words of the rethink website;

Scenario planning helps us both adapt to future changes and proactively shape the future we want. It is also a critical tool to improve our decisions in the present, because this process expands our perspective, identifies new opportunities, and can overcome our collective and individual blind spots— especially to key game-changers, which often challenge our assumptions and beliefs.

Scenarios are not predictions of the future, rather they are possible versions of the future which are sued to spark conversation and generate insights that we as an association might not have generated without the conversation. Having participated in the second Beta session last week in Chicago, I can tell you from my own experience that the conversations become wide ranging and brings us “outside the box” in our thoughts and planning.

Using new technology for accumulating data and presenting it in a visual manner , the Strategic planning committee will be provided with more information and more differing points of view than any group in the industry has ever had. The ability of individuals to participate in the strategic planning process for one of the largest trade associations in the country is an absolute game changer.

The next session will be held on July 31st in San Francisco just prior to the Inman Connect conference. I’ll be there, as will a number of well known industry figures to participate and contribute. The size of this session is limited, but if you are interested in participating, Here is the eventbrite invitation. For more information on the Rethink initiative, visit their website. Next up… what are the scenarios?

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4 comments for “Rethinking the Future

  1. July 18, 2012 at 11:19 am

    This should be a fantastic exercise for NAR and I hope that many great things come out of it for all involved.  Also, big thanks for allowing those who aren’t necessary Realtors, but support the industry, to participate. 

    I was wondering if reaching out to consumers (or actual buyers/sellers) and discussing what they want as part of the re future is a portion of this program?

  2. July 19, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Sara they will be reaching out to consumers as well, because they are in the process of gathering as much data as possible to help us through the process 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  3. July 20, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    I think as REALTOR members, we are the NAR consumer. Rethink our future is important. As someone who has participated at different levels in the association through my real estate career in the association I question as to how relevant is the structure as a whole in today’s world especially as to do we need all these local boards.

    It may be just my local board but it seems it has come to a point of being organizied to accomodate the board and staff and not the membership. I have to question when a CEO chooses to take me on in a Facebook post than pick up the phone and call me. If our leadership is cowardly the what does that say about the association? 

  4. July 21, 2012 at 11:44 am

    I hope that this process will some how involve input from real estate agents 

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