March of 2020 knocked everyone for a loop. After shaking off the initial shock, many businesses thought they would need to respond with a plan for a crisis-riddled Q2. Maybe Q3? Not so. The new normal is that we’re never going back to normal. Business needs to rethink its entire strategy and confirm its purpose and customer approach for this new world.
Foresights is the way to do it.
If we’ve learned anything from the last eight months of an economic and health crisis, business survival is all about adapting. Companies need to be nimble enough to shift strategies first to stay afloat, but also to thrive. In the recent past, the challenges of adapting have been about the pace of change or figuring out how to incorporate new and evolving technologies. Now, it’s about a global pandemic and potential economic catastrophe. Foresights can get your business and your team ready for whatever is coming next.
Strategic Foresights can save your business
Foresights research is not about predicting the future. It’s about preparing for the future. Foresights challenges a company to think broadly and redefine or confirm strategies based on new information. The benefits of foresights go beyond plotting potential scenarios:
Exploration: Provide a platform to explore opportunities, identify knowledge gaps, and generally challenge status quo thinking that may change how you look at your business.
Innovation: Provide education and stimulus for new technologies, new businesses, or needed skillsets to move a business in a new direction.
Preparation: Stress-tests existing or proposed ideas, improves anticipation, and provides a new level of preparation for possible changes in the current business, category or economy.
Choosing a Foresights Approach
There are many variations on the path to a sustainable foresights strategy. The process can be simple or complex, but in my opinion, it must involve these 3 components:
1. Comprehensive Research. Considering new paths forward for your business requires research from every angle. First, a multi-methodological research design should include an examination of the broader culture through trend analysis. Second, an understanding of the consumer should include qualitative in-depth interviews that cover territories outside of your category. Also, interviews with subject matter experts in your category and in adjacent sectors must be included no matter how far afield or fringe they may sound.
2. Context. Using systems thinking (considering your business as part of a bigger system) to examine the subsets of your business ecosystem and surrounding adjacencies is a critical step for identifying future developments.
3. Balance. Consumer research and contextual understanding must be complemented and challenged with market analysis.
● What is the current pricing power of the product or service?
● Who are the innovators in the startup and patent worlds?
● Who are your longtime and potentially new competitors?
● What is the level of market engagement for your current and/or new businesses?
This is a crucial reality check to counter the multitude of ideas generated in discussions.
The Path Forward
All of these approaches should be brought together in a cross-functional implementation workshop to draw on team members’ expertise when identifying areas of potential impact, testing ideas, and formulating potential scenarios.
Put time and energy into foresights, and your team will be educated, prepared and confident for navigating the challenges to come.