Hi there everyone,
it has been a year of surprises and elbow grease for us ever since we decided to focus on our software business (this was a strategic decision a few years ago). So far, we’ve talked to hundreds of new potential customers, been a part of an international start-up accelerator, and signed contracts internationally with customers and partners we did not dare to dream off. Why? Because we decided to believe in our FIBRES-story and give it all our dedication. The story originally started from a need for renewal and a hunch of an industry direction. Since we are agile and small, the manoeuvring has been relatively easy.
So, today I’ll dive in on a question we’ve encountered quite a few times along the way;
Is Starting Something New More Difficult For Larger Companies?
Why wouldn’t every large company just start building new businesses next to their own business domains? You have the money and resources, right?
I feel, that stable organisations focus on being their best selves – improving productivity through continuous improvement, applying Six Sigma and other lean methodologies on all organizational levels and taking all those steps necessary for being number 1. And don’t get me wrong here, it is all good, and we also believe that must be done to succeed. But it does not easily spark strategic renewal, does it? When it does, change and improvement demonstrate itself mostly in smaller things, rather than in new business models.
I’d say, this sometimes creates a continuous improvement trap. You keep on being leanest possible in your current domain, but might miss the train to the next level, forget to look at the next horizon and further more even miss out on the possible industry disruption.
Suggesting larger business renovations, let alone new business, might rock the current boat too much – and most executives are not paid for rocking the boat, are they? Even when based on knowledge from current business, new ventures are risky, uncertain, growth expectations are based on hope, rather than reasoned detailed business plans… This isn’t an easy piece for a corporate decision-making process. I get it, we get it! Yet it’s good to have a look around, there are multiple examples of companies that saw their end in that continuous improvement trap (look up Kodak story, and naturally we Finns like our “now fenix-like” Nokia mobile phones story etc.).
We are determined, that open-minded and long-sighted thinking in the management team helps overcome that trap and help find ways for realizing some of your most exciting renewal ventures!
So, okey, now I have spoken on behalf of the need for futures thinking and long-term mapping of your strategy…
Brave New World? Get Your Management Team Talk About Future!
Whatever your point-of-departure on your journey towards discussing strategic foresight is, here are some quick tips based on experience:
- You will need to reason this completely newly found concept, so collect data to back your story up (see links below!)
- You will need to figure out the way most suitable method for Your organisation to start work on Your future business challenge. Start small. Do a pilot, engage people and be transparent.
- You will be immensely helped in your discussion with superiors and colleagues, if you can show an example of a team working on foresight thinking already, maybe even with some quick wins… so starting with one team might be a good idea.
- Even when you are prepared, you will need countless discussions (eg. on whether it is worth it or just futuristic fluff) with your teams, just as well upwards as sideways and downwards in your organisation. Engage and collaborate!
- You will meet resistance and a lot of empty looks (but “Resistance is Futile”, as we know!). It’s natural since in many cases it’s difficult to jump from day-to-day business to something that seems a far away in future. Talk it through, let the discussion be open – in both ways!
Further Reading About Renewal and Strategic Foresight
To support you in your great endeavour I will list a few good articles, where you can find reasonings, academic research on the success of companies that do foresight and even some examples of some of the best practitioners of strategic foresight. Hope these will be of support!
- Academic proof of by foresight work’s impact on performance: Corporate Foresight and Performance: Evidence from a Large Empirical Study
- A HBR classic on managing your futures by Hamel&Prahalad: Competing For The Future
- Global level thoughts by The Chatman House: How Strategic Foresight Can Make Future a Safer Place
- Academic article, with listings of tools and methodologies used by corporations: What Corporations Do With Foresight
- Panu’s blog series (first post) on the Three Horizons Framework: Strategy Execution Meets Experimentation
Good luck, we are with you! (And note: you can order FIBRES for your first trial team here.)
But don’t rush. It’s a learning process.
Talk to you soon!
p.s Here are a few good # for social media discussion: #hybrid foresight #foresight #strategicforesight #strategyexecution