How to use the future as a tool to develop resilient strategies
Key takeaways from the EGGS for Breakfast seminar
Key takeaways from the EGGS for Breakfast seminar
At the seminar ‘Future as a Tool: Developing Resilient Strategies,' Julie L. Parisi and Mons Alexander Langaard from EGGS, together with our client Equinor, shared their know-how on how strategic foresight can help businesses innovate for the future. In this article, they summarise the key takeaways.
Strategic foresight is a systematic process that helps you think creatively about the future and be better prepared for change. But how can you put it into practice? Boiled down to its essence, the process looks like this:
The process begins by setting a starting point for exploring potential future scenarios. We establish a scope that makes this relevant for your business, and a timeframe that is beyond your business regular strategic timeframe. We need to look far enough in order to challenge current perceptions. The scope ensures strategic usability and gives guidance to the following activities in the strategic foresight process. From there, you can begin researching and exploring dynamics of change that could affect your business.
Step number two is about exploring and searching for dynamics of change and trends that can impact the future. The main point is to look outside your organisation – for example, for changes that might be related to suppliers, regulations, or the market in general. Here, you can use tools such as Megatrends, PESTLE, or 3 Horizons. We use these as lenses, helping us look broad enough and cover multiple dimensions of our set scope.
Here, it's crucial to be aware of our team's biases and assumptions going into the search phase. The goal is to be as objective as possible. A tip is to use a diverse and cross-disciplinary team with a wide variety of competencies and backgrounds when you search and work with strategic foresight. That way you can ensure that you don’t miss out on relevant perspectives and knowledge.
Now, it’s time to structure the knowledge you gathered in the previous step. In our exploration of the dynamics of change, we have delved into various issues that we believe have a relevance in our scope. Moving forward, we have to filter out the issues we are most uncertain about and that have the highest impact - the most critical uncertainties. We give these two opposing, but plausible, outcomes or polarities: two extremes. Lastly, we compare these to each other and create fitting matrices where the polarities don’t interfere, thus creating opportunity spaces.
“Strategic foresight doesn’t provide you with a strategy. But it gives you the inspiration to create one that has a high chance of success."Mons Langaard, Business Designer, EGGS
Everything that you have done up until this step has been vital to creating a good foundation for this crucial step – creating scenarios. A scenario describes an alternative or a new reality. It’s a tool that describes the external factors through a believable narrative. Here, it’s essential to remember that scenarios are not good or bad – they are objective descriptions of possible futures. Moreover, it’s important not to include a solution in the scenarios – it should only describe a reality. And, again, it’s essential to remember to work with multiple perspectives and focus on objectivity. Make use of your cross-disciplinary team and include as many viewpoints and perspectives as possible.
Finally, you can use the scenarios to think strategically. The scenarios give us a set of threats and opportunities we can act on with our strengths and weaknesses. We have two ways to use scenarios to find strategic fit and strategic inspiration:
You test your current strategy and determine if it is robust enough to handle the potential changes you have identified. What changes might you have to make to your current strategy for it to address future challenges better?
You can also use the scenarios to create a brand-new strategy that is better suited to the future you envision. What does the winning strategy of an organization like yours look like in the future scenarios? - what strengths, capabilities, and actions do you need to make the most out of the opportunities in the reality of this scenario?
Strategic foresight may sound daunting, but it is critical to keep up with developments and planning for the future. As John Scully, CEO of Apple, once said: "The future belongs to those who see opportunities before they become obvious." So, don't wait for the future to happen - start planning for it today with strategic foresight.
”The future belongs to those who see opportunities before they become obvious.”John Scully, CEO of Apple
We’d love to learn about your challenges and explain more about how we use strategic foresight to inspire new design of products, services and business models.
If you're interested in learning more about how to use strategic foresight, don’t hesitate to get in touch, we're here to help! Drop us an email, give us a call, or come by for a coffee chat.
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