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This community-wide blog showcases blogs by APF members on topics they select. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this section belong solely to the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of APF.


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Guide Longer Range Innovation Investments Using Strategic Foresight

Posted By Administration, Sunday, March 19, 2017
Updated: Friday, March 8, 2019

This post is part of a series on using strategic foresight to influence longer-range innovation investments written by APF members Christian Crews, Laura Schlehuber, and Ted Farrington. This post originally appeared on Viewpoints on March 9th, 2017. The full Innovation Leader’s Guide to Strategic Foresight is available for download from Kalypso. The views expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily of the APF or its other members.

Portfolio management is at the core of any innovation leader’s job, including what to put in the portfolio, how to manage resources over time, and how to transfer to the business unit and commercialize. And any company that invests in longer-range innovation faces two major challenges related to this portfolio management.

The first is best expressed by this quote from the late Steve Jobs:

“You can’t just ask people what they want and build it, by the time you’re finished they want something new.”

While the relevant timeframes vary by industry, most companies use consumer or customer intimacy to inform their near-term R&D project portfolio. Focus groups and ethnographic research give many industries, especially CPG firms, about a two-year view of what their consumers want to see in new products and services. So the real heart of this challenge is: How does a company select projects when the time to deliver major innovations often exceeds the time horizon of their consumer or customer understanding?

The second dilemma is best described by a saying attributed to Henry Ford:

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses’!”

Longer-range project portfolio questions cannot be answered by talking with, or observing, current consumers and customers. They have no idea what might be possible five, ten or twenty years from now, depending on the industry.

The Power of Strategic Foresight

Strategic foresight is a discipline that provides a structured way to investigate, not predict, the future. Fundamental to using strategic foresight to guide anything (corporate strategy, military plans, stock investments, government policy or longer-range R&D portfolios) is the development and use of scenarios. Scenarios are provocative, yet plausible, alternative views of the future in which we may find ourselves.

In the research and development context, strategic foresight is advanced portfolio management, where projects are selected based on robustness across multiple future scenarios, not a single financial metric or scorecard. A new product idea that appears in multiple futures is a pretty good bet! Leading practitioners of this approach require that any major R&D initiative perform well in all future scenarios.

Learn More

Strategic foresight enables organizations to build a unique perspective of the future, driving market entry at the right time with differentiated products and services. But not all foresight approaches are created equal.

Download the Innovation Leader’s Guide to Strategic Foresight to learn more

Learn more about Kalypso’s Strategic Foresight offerings

Tags:  foresight  guide  strategic foresight 

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“Final” Version of Foresight Competency Model

Posted By Website Admin, Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Updated: Saturday, March 9, 2019

This APF Foresight Competency Model is “final” in the sense of this initial effort. We will, of course, revisit and update the competency model in the years ahead as needed. The Board suggested a more contemporary design for the competency model graphic — thus the original pyramid structure used with the DOL/ETA approach was replaced with an updated graphic aligned with APF design and branding. This new design was unveiled at the 2016 Town Hall Meeting in Washington DC on July 23rd. It was extremely well received — kudos to the design team on a job well done!

The competency model suggests what one should be capable of doing in order to be a professional futurist. The Competency Model Team — Cornelia Daheim (Germany), Jay Gary & Andy Hines (US), and Luke van der Laan (Australia) — drove this effort that involved many others and took more than a year to complete. This final version is APF’s view of futurist competencies at this point in time. It is offered to the large futurist community in the spirit of stimulating further discussion of what it takes to be a professional futurist. Indeed a competency model is not intended to be static or fixed, but rather to evolve along with the field it describes.

Tags:  foresight  foresight competency  guide 

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