Great guest post by Ron Immink, maverick, speaker, business book geek, entreprenerd, author, blogger, innovator, strategist, CEO and co-founder. To read more about Ron see our interview with him here. Ron is also involved in the upcoming Hack The Bank event, organised by Ulster Bank, taking place at the NDRC on Friday Jan 30th, see here for more details.

Business and Strategy

I read an article last week in Strategy & Business, titled “Five steps to formalising forward thinking in your organisation”. An excellent piece with some very good suggestions that ensure that forward thinking becomes part of a process and better at capitalising on future trends.

Tips and books

Below are the tips with links to some books (there is always a book).

1. Go micro

Appoint a person that gathers and analyses micro trends observed through suppliers, partners, magazines, clients, culture, etc. Create a team that represent each relevant department for a once-a-month meeting in which micro trends are presented and discussed. Trend predictions from this group should be submitted to the management team.

2. Conduct annual scenario planning.

Create scenario teams that once a year, develop a number of scenarios. If you smart you make this a collective exercise where everyone, from all levels in the company, get involved.

  • Set a time horizon (2025, 2055, etc.) and scope (a specific area of your business, all areas of your business, or the entire industry) for the analysis.
  • Map the key trends and driving forces that could impact your business, including economic, political, technological, legal, societal, and industry-specific trends. Describe each trend, as well as how and why it will affect your organization.
  • Look for uncertainties: wild-card factors that could upend current plans —such as an environmental disaster, supplier bankruptcy, or tighter industry regulation — and threaten your organisation.
  • Define two to four scenarios based on the trends and uncertainties you’ve identified. Include a mix of best- and worst-case scenarios.
  • ·Assess the scenarios. What are your opportunities? What are the threats? How can your business prepare now for these scenarios?

3. Make the future tangible.

Task your product team with identifying key social, technological, economic, environmental, and political (STEEP) forces that will likely impact your organization. Distribute the STEEP list internally and use it to generate forward-thinking ideas from the company at large.

4. Retain a technology scout.

Technology scouting is a systematic means of identifying emerging technologies or applying established technologies in new ways. If you don’t have the budget to retain scouting services, identify a current employee who is imaginative and has a track record for making unexpected connections. This individual should have a technical background, broad experience within the company, and a vast network of contacts in diverse industries.

5. Tap into academia.

Universities are innovation hotspots which many companies fail to utilise. Drop in on a campus nearby and have a coffee with the tech transfer people. Guaranteed you will be amazed.
To pull ahead of your competition, start by outlining your long-term business objectives that could be served through collaboration with a university.

6. Read books

We are biased but if you read a business book regularly (and make sure you read the right books), none of the trends coming your way should come as a surprise. Here are seven you should read

The call to action

You can follow those tips (and you should), or you can retain Bookbuzz (yep, that is us). Which will not only ensure that it happens, but that it will happen cost effectively, with full engagement of your people, without reinventing the wheel.

If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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