Building a Better Strategy with "Our Five Futures"
The next time you need people to plan for a disruptive future, give them five to think about instead of just one. When we do this work, we divide people into at least five different groups, and give each group one of the following “futures” to discuss:
A disruptive technology that will impact their industry, competitors, or customers such as AI, Blockchain, or Quantum Computing government action,
A disruptive competitor will enter their market like an Apple, Amazon, or Google,
An unexpected business model will demand they rethink traditional talent, production, or pricing strategies much like AirBNB did to the hotel industry,
A change in governmental policy or regulation will realign incentives or shift risk tolerances like what would happen to if the tax code were dramatically rewritten, or
A future where everything that happens is predictable and nothing that occurs is surprising (The Status Quo).
For each of these futures, we ask the following questions (shown on the worksheet above):
On a scale of 1-10, how likely do you believe this future will happen?
What do you hope will be true in this future?
What do you fear will be true in this future?
Are there ways we work/operate now that might make it harder to be ready for this future?
If we’re certain that even part of this future will occur, what should we focus our attention on now to be ready?
Once the groups reconvene, ask each to share a story about the future they were given — paying particular attention to their answers to last two questions (4 & 5 from the list above).
We’ll bet you’ll find that no matter the future, each group will answer those last two questions in a very similar way. And that’s where you should begin your strategy work.