By now, most organizations have completed their annual planning process, and the board is giving its final blessing. As companies prepare their plans, there is much concern about what next year will bring, from a possible recession and increased trade wars to the rise of environmental and socially driven issues. To add to the planning challenge, companies are struggling to make their big innovation bets pay-off with many new initiatives failing to deliver the desired results.
Often these market dynamics undermine the investments in innovation either entering the market too early or too late. On a grander scale, these market dynamics are the precursor to significant and more challenging trends on the horizon, waiting to undermine or disrupt businesses focused on planning their future by focusing on the past. It’s like driving your car by looking through your rearview mirror, ultimately leading you to miss the turn and collide with a foreseen tree. There is an opportunity for companies to focus on both the short-term and long-term future, ensuring potential contingency plans are in place when the most unpredictable scenario occurs. We call this strategic foresight, which provides companies a range of scenarios that could disrupt their entire organization and a roadmap on how to create contingency plans.
A critical factor in ensuring companies are ready for unforeseen changes in the marketplace is the ability to include a strategic foresight process as part of their yearly planning cycle. A future-readiness planning process will ensure the organization has in place a range of strategies to leverage the emerging trends to help capture a competitive advantage. There are three factors companies should take into consideration when undertaking a strategic foresight initiative, namely:
1. Inclusive Perspective
Disruption and change often impact the entire organization, from supply chain to marketing and HR. As such, it’s essential the organization includes representatives from each department as part of the planning process, led by a designated planning leader. By gaining input from each area of the organization, leveraging their particular insights and supply information, the process allows for a well-rounded view of the trends shaping the organization.
2. STEEP Process
The market scanning process should include a view of the social, technological, environmental, economic and political (STEEP) drivers of the marketplace and how they can influence the long-term view of the organization. In addition to the STEEP drivers, a market scan should also include existing trends that have shaped current thinking and potential wild card events that could have a significant negative impact on the business.
3. Decision Bias Review
We have found what has driven a company’s success typically becomes the barrier to manage change. Most decisions are filtered through a set of leadership and company culture bias’ that blind the organization, instead of embracing change and accepting potential scenarios impacting the business. The strategic foresight planning process should start with an honest assessment of the decision bias that leads to current business decisions. It’s important to also determine which of these are hindering potential desired outcomes from the scenario planning process.
Ultimately, the biggest challenge in the strategic foresight planning process is gaining internal alignment on the need and importance of such an initiative, knowing countless stretch most executives time. To help arm the organization with insights supporting the importance of initiating a future-readiness planning process, take a few minutes for our self-assessment study!