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Foresight is the Secret Weapon of Success

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Today, without foresight,
we can't prepare for what the future has in store for us. This concept has
always been important, but now more than ever, it is more difficult to come by because
everything in our world is constantly changing. Our technologies, jobs,
institutions, even some of our treasured values and ways of thinking are
shifting radically, making it very difficult to prepare for future challenges
and opportunities.  I caught up with Nicole
Baker, Associate at Kedge to discuss this rapidly growing importance of using foresight
and trends in business.  
Baker will be speaking at the upcoming Foresight & Trends 2014 conference in Los
Angeles this November.  This year, Foresight
& Trends unites the most forward thinking, creative and innovative people
from across the globe to discuss macro trends disrupting how business gets
done. This unique event synthesizes trend insights, consumer insights,
foresight, brand strategy, design thinking, human science and innovation into a
clear vision for capturing future opportunities with a unique blended learning
curriculum. It unleashes valuable knowledge, contextualizes the knowledge into
relevant examples for you to apply back to your business, and then empowers you
to connect with the future in hands on translation sessions and immersion
techniques centered on core themes.
Here's what Baker had to say:
IIR: How do you
challenge the status quo? 
Baker: Strategic Foresight can be its own business
case for change.  In other words, sharing
an analysis of trends and patterns (which result from the intersection of
trends) will often create the impetus for change.  Beyond that business case creation,
leveraging assumption and bias tools which are integral to Strategic Foresight
is a powerful way to challenge conventional thinking.  Diving deep below the surface of an issue and
examining its root causes helps organizations overcome the 'it's always been
done this way' inertia, paving the way for long-term change.
IIR: How does
understanding and implementing foresight and trends ensure commercial success
in business?
Baker: Working
with the Senior VP in Labor Relations, we crafted several scenarios depicting
the future of unions which were used to make profitable decisions regarding
talent and focused legislation.
IIR: How do you
get your organization to align with your vision of taking action on foresight? 
Baker: The fact
is that we are all creating the future with the actions we take or do not take
today.  Most organizations (and
individuals); however, make these decisions without actually thinking about the
future (either consciously or collaboratively). 
With Strategic Foresight running in the background (as your company's
operating system), the process of aligning action to long-term vision is
seamless.
IIR: Why are
trends so important in order to make strategic choices for your business? 
Baker: Trends are
a critical element of building a foresight competency; however, they can also
be our worst enemy.  Trends represent
what is already here, and without training on how to interpret trends,
organizations can be blinded to what's next. 
Instead of focusing solely on trends, we must look at the value shifts
under girded the trends as well as the impacts and implications resulting from
the trend that are actually shaping the future. 
In addition, trends (like everything else in our current environment) do
not exist in isolation, as a result, organizations must develop the skill of
pattern and sense-making in order to capitalize on the collision of trends.
IIR: What advice
do you have for others trying to create a strategic plan for capturing future
opportunities?
Baker: Think in
multiples. To be effective, strategic plans in the 21st Century cannot be
linear extrapolations of the past.  We
must challenge our current mental maps, make sense of the emerging issues and
create multiple, divergent future worlds to allow for robust and transformative
strategy development.
IIR: What do you
think will be the biggest trend affecting the future of business? 
Baker: Rather
than a solitary trend, I think a pattern or cluster of trends will be most
impactful.  In the future, open-source
talent sharing will soon become so common that there will be a 'People Cloud'
where work is shared, collaboration is instantaneous, and 'cloud' employees
work for multiple enterprises simultaneously. Boundaries between internal and
external networks will begin to blur, as organizations embrace the wisdom of
crowds to execute strategy.
IIR: What would
the world be like without foresight and innovation? 
Baker: It's
actually not hard to imagine since there are many places and organizations in
the world that ignore the future. 
Governments, associations and firms that hold steadfastly to the past in
hopes that it will one day return.  The
result is as painful to watch as it is to be a part of.
IIR: Have you
ever been wrong about a foresight or future trend? 
Baker: We are
careful to advise our clients that no one can predict the future. Instead, we
show them how to map it, creating multiple, divergent and provocative scenarios
that allow us to test our current strategies while creating new ones. 
IIR: What is the
biggest thing you hope to get out of Foresight & Trends 2014 this fall?
Baker: I hope to
engage with like-minded partners that seek to create more than a foresight
division and instead are looking to create a culture of future thinkers in
their organization.
Want to hear more
from Nicole? Hear from her at Foresight & Trends 2014 this November 11-13
in Los Angeles, CA. For more information about the event or to register, click
here: http://bit.ly/1uxtxzL

About the Author:
Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist of the Marketing Division at IIR USA, has a background in digital and
print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing,
and technology. Amanda is the Editor at Large for several of IIR's blogs
including Next Big DesignCustomers 1stDigital Impact, STEAM Accelerator and ProjectWorld and World Congress for Business
Analysts
, and a regular contributor to Front End of Innovation and The Market Research Event,.
She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where
she covered breaking news and feature stories in the technology industry. She
can be reached at aciccatelli@iirusa.com. Follow her at @AmandaCicc.   

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