Strategic Foresight for Key Projects
Here are notes from the Back End of Innovation conference, 2015, in San Jose. These tips come from a workshop led by Tamara Carleton, Innovation Leadership Board, LLC.
This session focuses on strategic foresight, which is the ability to build the future we envision.
Strategic foresight is based on choices made today intended to influence future action. The goal is to lessen ambiguity with a mix of mindset and foresight. The reason is that the early decisions in any undertaking impact the actions you take.
So, what is the process, what are the steps?
Foresight in Action 1: Build relationships as you build your ideas.
Ms. Carleton introduced the Crowd Clover, an exercise to help identify the social network that map out the people who help us succeed. It asks who are the catalysts, connectors, promoters, and enablers.
Identify mas many as possible, and then mark the ones that are either formal or informal relationships.
You can do this exercise on the individual, project, team, divisional, or organizational level.
The key learning is that you realize your strengths and blind spots in areas where people can be integral for success.
Foresight in Action 2: Excite current and new champions with a vision.
This tool is a version of an elevator pitch. It is a Vision Statement whose goal is to get the story down to essentials and convey the key points of value. This vision helps others create a mental picture of the impact and value of this project. The drafting process works like Mad Libs. You fill in the blanks:
Our Vision is to ________________________________.
It was impossible until today because _________________________________.
The timing is now right to ______________________________________.
Precedents of this idea include ____________________________, __________________________.
By working with our partners ________________________________________ we will make this vision real in _________months.
Today, we’re beginning this journey by ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.
Foresight in Action 3: Help others see what is coming next
This tool is a version of the Quad chart. It is called a NewCo Four-Up, which summarizes the essence of your plan according to the promotion of the concept, the strategy, the competitive advantages, and the path of change. So, at this end of this exercise you have defined the What, Where, Why, and How as a working definition.
A quick exercise proved that this process is exceedingly both descriptive and generative.
Foresight in Action 4: Practice Receiving Ideas
This tool is a practice in simply sharing and socializing ideas and getting feedback.
This practice of storytelling keeps you sharp and attuned to your audience and how well your communication is being received, more important, how well you listen and receive feedback.
Think of these as Buddy Checks. Have everyone on the team practice these Buddy Check storytelling and turn them into project evangelists and good listeners.
The idea here is not to sell a pitch, but to communicate, and to learn and refine the story arc by receiving valuable feedback.
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Michael Graber is the co-founder and managing partner at Southern Growth Studio, a Memphis, Tennessee-based firm that specializes in growth strategy and innovation. A published poet and musician, Graber is the creative force that complements the analytical side of the house. He speaks and publishes frequently on best practices in design thinking, business strategy, and innovation and earned an MFA from the University of Memphis. Follow Michael @SouthernGrowth
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