What does the future have in store for us? How do we respond? How can we help shape this future? This report addresses these fundamental questions for business strategists.
Planning for the future is an essential part of business leadership. Traditional approaches to strategic planning have limits, particularly when assessing long-term risks from issues such as climate change. Increasing change and complexity make it difficult to accurately project the future.
Depending on the answers to the questions above, organizations can choose between four planning approaches. These approaches differ from each other along two dimensions:
how engaged the organization is in influencing the future, and
how predictable future outcomes are.
Note: Increased levels of shading mean that increased stakeholder participating is needed to realise these planning approaches.[/caption]
This approach involves a low level of engagement in shaping the future and assumes that the environment is highly predictable. For example, forecasting is a mechanism that implements a projection approach by extrapolating key trends from past data.
This approach still involves a low level of engagement, but emphasizes the need for quick responses to changes. An example of this approach is enhancing agility, by developing organizational capabilities to detect and respond to emerging changes.
Shaping the Future
This is a proactive approach for the organization, based on greater predictability with a large role for the organization in identifying and shaping a desired future. Related approaches include lobbying, stakeholder consultations and entrepreneurial actions.
Transformational planning involves a high level of engagement, while emphasizing that envisioning and influencing the future is a collective effort. It is based on the belief that growing challenges present opportunities for organizations to define a vision with others. For example, in transformative scenario planning, a broad array of stakeholders engages in identifying scenarios and designing coordinated responses.