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Strategic Thinking and Futures

Eye on the futureThe future is, by definition, unknowable. That, however, does not mean that it is impossible to prepare for it; this is the role of Strategic Thinking and a range of Futures techniques.

But why should you be concerned about the future? And isn’t ‘strategy’ and ‘strategic thinking’ over-rated in any case?

Whilst ‘strategy’ may have become a hackneyed term, the need remains the same – to understand and respond to potential future changes. Here are just a few ways in which strategic thinking and futures techniques might help you:

  • To build resilience and adaptability: by better understanding possible futures, even without knowing exactly how things will play out, your organisation can be ready to exploit new opportunities and cope with possible threats.
  • To explore new products, services or markets: by understanding the forces that might be shaping your customers and citizens attitudes and preferences, you can put yourself in a better position to meet those needs before your competitors.
  • To identify and help shape a ‘desired’ future: by exploring how society might change (possible futures) you can identify a future towards which you would like to guide that change. Whilst this is often a need for public sector organisations, some visionary private sector organisations also use this approach, for example for market-making.
  • To ‘wind-tunnel’ existing plans, products or services: testing how resilient they are to future change and to identify strategic risks and how those might be managed (‘future proofing’).

We are able to draw on a range of techniques that we have used in both the private and public sector organisations, to tailor an approach that suits your needs. Those techniques include, for example: change driver analysis, scenario-planning; visioning; and back-casting. Using our 4 stage approach

Step 1 – Initiate: here we will build an understanding of what business issue you would like to address and any existing work / evidence on which we could draw. For example, all futures approaches start with an understanding of the drivers / forces that shape the operating environment for your organisation (for example Political, Economic, Social and Technological). We can either use the evidence you already have or help you identify the information you need and possible sources.

Step 2 – Design: this will include bringing together the background and evidence as well as selecting the appropriate futures technique(s) to address the business issue identified. We would work closely with you to design the approach that best meets both the need and culture of your organisation.

Step 3 – Execute: we would then run the event or events, based on the customised approach.

Step 4 – Action: lastly, we will capture the output from the workshop(s) within twenty-four hours of each event. This will include: materials used and / or developed on the day, actions / next steps agreed. We shall also follow-up 2 to 4 weeks after the final event to talk through progress and act as a reminder for agreed actions.

For more information on how we can help you consider what the future might bring, please contact us at info@ideasown.co.uk.

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