Here in the UK it’s pantomime season, lots of audience participation and shouts of ‘it’s behind you’.

Sitting, as I do, in front of our library of HR, change and leadership books my internal dialogue is often shouting ‘it’s behind you’ whenever I am trying to think of an answer to some challenge or other.
Now, anybody who knows me at all well will know I love to read for personal development (my current recommendation is Black Box Thinking by Bounce author Matthew Syed) but as soon as we move beyond fundamentals, and especially in terms of marketing practice, is it a mistake to spend too much time looking over our shoulders?

Looking to the past to ascertain the future is a central mental model in the world of marketing – we demonstrate the possibility of a solution for client x with the case study produced for client y. This, of course, has value and helps demonstrate both capability and competence.

However, is a more empowering mental model that of first principle thinking, favoured by Elon Musk? Move away from thinking that in analogous to what’s been done before and instead plan for the future or outcome you want.

It’s not a new idea but looking ahead to 2017 I do feel there is value in adopting, or trying for size, more forward looking mental models; based on the fact that it’s never been easier or cheaper to test and learn. To prototype, develop and enhance.

Or indeed (to return to Matthew Syed and Black Box Thinking) to allow the possibility of failure as a driver of innovation (Chapter 10) as opposed to seeking the certainties of the past and, quite possibly, not gaining ground.

Executive Vice President, Europe

Gareth Edwards leads the AIA business in the UK, and TMP business in Europe, and is focused on driving the agency’s strategy and creating a business that is driven by creativity, powered by technology and focused on people. Gareth has held a variety of senior roles in the industry and has worked with a wide range of clients in sectors including retail, banking, professional services and central government to help them develop and execute their talent marketing strategies.