Martin “Marty” H. Singer is Chairman and CEO of PCTEL, which develops antenna, scanning and other solutions for wireless networks. Before PCTEL, Singer served as President and CEO of SAFCO Technologies, another wireless communications company. He was also a Vice President and General Manager at Motorola and held senior management and technical positions at Tellabs, AT&T and Bell Labs. With a Vanderbilt Ph.D in experimental psychology, Singer is a trained thinker. He will share this space with other distinguished executive thinkers, who will offer occasional musings from “the corner office.”
By Marty Singer
In our personal lives, we seem to have no problem peering into the future. Let’s say that you and your spouse are thinking about buying a house. My guess is that you’ll talk seriously about what type of space and location you might need for the next 10 years. You probably thought or are thinking about whether you need a place that accommodates your plans to have or expand your family. If you’re my age, you might be thinking about your knees in 5 or 10 years and the advantages of first floor master bedrooms.
This decision, like so many others that we make as we move through life, is one that is made from the future. You don’t focus on your current situation and plan from that vantage point. Instead, you place the decision squarely in the future. You ask questions about what you should do today in the context of what you believe to be true or close to the truth about the future. You don’t claim to know the future, but you actively reduce uncertainty in your decision by constraining it with conditions that you borrow from a story you tell yourself about your future.
Making decisions about today’s actions in the context of a specific future applies, for example, to graduate school choices. Hopefully, young graduates don’t apply to Law School because it’s a sensible, incremental step from majoring in Political Science or Public Policy. One would hope that those who compete to get into decent schools and struggle through a demanding curricula do all of that in the service of a future practicing law or, even better, working in a specific area for which a law degree is essential to success.
I’m not sure exactly what happens when people walk through the looking glass doors of their companies, but something changes. (more…)