Perhaps the most important, but often overlooked, aspect of innovation is in knowing what questions to ask and what problems you’re looking to solve. This “front end” of the front-end of innovation-foresight-allows organizations to better define problems, ask smarter questions, and innovate more effectively using focused approaches.
At futurethink, we’ve been busy developing a new training curriculum to help organizations build their foresight capabilities. Our goal is to make foresight techniques accessible and easily understandable to business people. With a global economic climate that limits our collective ability to experiment freely, it’s more important than ever to approach innovation with clear objectives and goals. Over the past few months, we’ve interviewed people in charge of innovation at numerous organizations in both the public and private sectors. Nearly everyone we spoke with, from P&G and Pfizer to NESTA and Sandia National Laboratories, mentioned the importance of using foresight to “get the right ideas for the right problems.” Foresight is comprised of three overarching components:
- Scanning, Synthesizing, & Analyzing: a phase of broad-reaching research during which “weak signals” and opportunities are uncovered.
- Scenario Planning & Opportunity Recognition: the phase where insights from research and scanning are explored, and translated into dynamic ‘stories’ of possible, probable, and preferable futures .
- Visualization & Communication: the final phase, during which scenarios are published to wide audience so that they may serve as a platform for idea generation and innovation.
To help you better stay on top of the future, we’ve added a Foresight section to our newsletter. This section will provide you with resources, articles, and insights relating to futurists, scenario-planning, scanning, and futures research.
Looking forward, past the economic uncertainty and recession, what will your business look like?