About Us

For over 20 years, Preferred Futures has been serving Fortune 50 and mid-size companies, entrepreneurs, non-profit organizations as well as individuals, in making successful transitions to sustain their growth.

Mission

To offer collaborative approaches to individuals, teams and whole systems committed to doing great work to create a more positive future.

Principles

Honoring history

A strong foundation is made by eliciting stories about touchstones of the past. Both individuals and organizations gain new perspectives about what to carry forward and what to leave behind offering greater possibilities for your future.

Appreciating the now

A picture of the current reality is revealed by examining what is working well and what gets in the way of top performance—individually and collectively. Unlike a medical model that searches for signs of illness, we bring the strengths and successes to the fore and study the root causes of health and vitality. There is safe space created for the whole truth which is a combination of many, diverse perspectives and is not always bright and cheerful. The final view of your present situation is balanced, empowering, and encompasses yearnings for a better future.

Preferred futuring

In order to create a magnetic vision to strive for, we use proven social science methods and pragmatic know-how help you dream big. What is the legacy you want to leave this generation? The next seven generations? The end result is an audacious as well as achievable image of the future—one that is meaningful to you and people within as well as outside your organization.

Values based

When values are clear and congruent for individuals themselves and between individuals, there are no limits to what can be achieved. When values are violated or are at odds, forward movement is impossible and conflicts abound. We encourage thoughtful development and communication of values as the true north to guide strategies, processes and behaviors.

Seeing systems and their interdependencies

Just like the blind man who can only experience the parts of the elephant, we avoid “system blindness” by helping you see the bigger picture in all its complexity. By using a systems lens, issues become depersonalized and depoliticized thereby encouraging a partnership approach to achieving positive results.

Legitimizing power

Power dynamics exist—between levels, departments and individuals—and need to be discussable in order to be leveraged in healthy ways.

High-engagement

Trusting the wisdom of the people doing the work, we ask who should not be in the room more often than who should. Therefore, we bring a wide-array of tools and techniques to engage groups in strategic thinking and decision-making—from a handful to over a thousand at a time.

Both/And thinking

Some issues require an either/or solution but more often than not, the tension between two interdependent poles—activity and rest, for instance—is not solvable, it simply needs to be maximized. Competitive advantage comes from understanding this dynamic and making it visible to people—both for individual as well as organizational development.

Founder and President

Elizabeth K. Olson, MSOD, PCC, has been partnering with clients for over 20 years to effectively manage transitions and build productive teams. Elizabeth encourages strategic thinking as well as emotional intelligence to enhance leadership effectiveness and partnerships across groups. Client results include exceeding goals, impressive increases in profitability, sales, and people engagement, finding or rediscovering passion in their work, navigating successful career transitions, and transforming relationships.

Consulting with organizations, Elizabeth specializes in tested methods to engage the broadest representation of interested parties in visioning, strategic thinking and planning, decision-making, team building and learning. Clients become partners in processes that encourage participation, promote power sharing, and result in alignment of purpose. Working with leaders in Fortune 50, mid-size, and start-up companies, as well as non-profit organizations, Elizabeth helps clarify their direction, guiding principles, and how to achieve results collaboratively.

As an Executive Coach, Elizabeth engages clients in reaching deep to leverage their core strengths and values for maximum impact. For leaders in career transition, whether by choice or circumstance, Elizabeth brings optimism and strategy to the process of discovering their preferred professional future.

Preferred Futures, Inc., serves both global and domestic clients in the corporate, public, and not-for-profit sectors. Clients include 3-M, McDonald’s Corporation, CIGNA, University of Rhode Island, Lifespan, Metropolitan Life Insurance, The United Way, Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co, Yahoo!, Illinois Action for Children, and Right Management Consulting, to name a few. Elizabeth is also part of CoachSource and Sloan International coaching networks and has served as adjunct staff at Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago teaching MBA students Effective Leadership. Elizabeth was Interim Executive Director of a non-profit and, prior to her external consulting practice, she worked internally at several banks now part of Bank of America.  She speaks on topics of strategic thinking, the power of polarities, and how to lead collaborative change.

In partnership with Gil Steil, Elizabeth has conducted a public seminar, Creating High-Engagement Workplaces, in Europe and the US. In it the principles of leveraging participation are explored and many large-group technologies are experienced and applied to actual cases.

Elizabeth holds a BA in American Social History from Wesleyan University and a Master’s degree in Organization Development from The American University and National Training Laboratories and completion of the Evidence-Based Coaching for Organizations program from Fielding Graduate University. In addition, she has had extensive training in organizational change by the masters in the field. Certifications include Professional Certified Coach by the ICF, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), Barry Oshry’s Organization Workshop, Polarity Assessment for Continuity and Change (PACT),  Executive Team Alignment process, and the Genos Emotional Intelligence Assessment.

Professional affiliations include the Organization Development Network, the International Coaching Federation, and Conscious Capitalism.

When not with clients, Elizabeth can be found dancing and spending time outdoors kayaking, hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. She also loves adventure travel to explore foreign cultures, food and fun in nature. She has two adult children who work in Jackson Hole, WY and a wily Australian Cattle Dog. She volunteers on the Transition Team for a non-profit in the midst of a large-scale change effort and sings for hospice patients in her local Threshold Choir.