As we slide into the (relatively) relaxed summer months, we’re looking forward to the opportunity to help our clients take stock of their innovation efforts so they can be prepared for the strategic planning season that lies ahead. We’re increasingly reminded of the important role that strategic foresight can play in this process. While organizations of all sizes could afford to experiment and innovate freely during better times, everyone today is being much more careful about how and where they allocate innovation resources. Strategic foresight—the process of carefully analyzing trends and the broad marketplace to identify opportunities for the months and years ahead—allows organizations to place fewer bets that collectively have a higher likelihood of success in the long run.
As Mark Hausfeld, an Innovation Manager at P&G recently told us in an interview, “We constantly challenge ourselves to understand what the big opportunities out there are, and then articulate those needs in a way that can help us really drive innovation around that opportunity area. Some organizations say: Let’s find all the cool technologies and ideas out there, and then we’ll go find a problem that they solve. We take that and we reverse it. We say: Let’s have a clear understanding of the problem we need to solve. We make sure the problem is well-defined first, and then come up with the innovations to solve those problems.”
Strategic foresight practices will help you better identify opportunities and problems in need of solutions so that your innovation efforts can be more focused and successful. Luckily, the summer is the perfect time to start embedding strategic foresight activities into your regular routine. Identify a few niche blogs or forums that cover your industry and start scanning these sources regularly. Set up a Google Reader account to easily track and view these blogs. Sign up for a few new newsletters and trade publications. Beefing up your scanning list will allow you to easily track the pulse of the marketplace so that you’ll have a better picture of what could happen in the future.
How will you engage foresight activities as we enter the strategic planning season?