STAGE 2) IMAGINE TOMORROW - 360° TRENDS
"Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future."
Nils Bohr, Nobel Laureate in Physics
Our strategy is how we will win in the future. For some businesses (e.g. social media) this could be 18 months, others need to look out 10-15 years (e.g. airlines, automotive, energy) - it depends how rapidly our business environment is changing and how long a shadow strategic investments will cast.
The only certainty about seeing the future is that we will be wrong. Accepting this takes the pressure off, relax! The purpose of trying to see the future is to make better decisions today, not to be right.
Questions to answer
- How are customer needs changing? What new buying factors are emerging?
- What do extreme customers today look like? What will happen when these are the mainstream customers?
- How will customers want to buy in the future? What new channels might emerge in a digital world?
- Are there disruptive technologies today that will become “good enough” for mainstream customers in the future?
- What new business models are being tried? What would it take for these to be successful?
- Who could be our future competitors? Which suppliers/customers/companies from outside the industry might enter our business?
- How will global trends impact our industry? How will environmental, geopolitical, regulatory changes affect us?
Example Framework: 360° Trends
Companies can frequently get fixated on one aspect of the future - e.g. the future direction of product technology - and be blindsided to the other ways that their industry is changing.
To avoid this, we will assign different aspects of the future to different teams or individuals. Each of them should explore their area is isolation, calling on external perspectives to round out their imagination. Interviews with our most forward-thinking customers will be especially revealing.
With each individual area thoroughly explored, our strategic team can come back together, learn from each other, identify connections and linkages, and ultimately synthesise a rich picture of the possible future of the industry.