CHAPTER 3 Where does the future fit?

Scenarios should drive strategic thinking and innovation

In 2011 I was invited to speak at the annual conference for a company offering development and support services to a vast network of business advisers across Australia. This organisation had been operating successfully for almost 20 years, providing business tools and strategy methodologies to advance the capabilities of their members. It was exposure to one of these methods during the conference that reinforced for me how the future remains the essential missing element in strategy.

On a handout given to each attendee was a model for how to take a business from where it is now to where it wants to be. This approach was accompanied by the diagram represented in figure 3.1 (overleaf) and the following three questions:

Image of a graph with time marked on the x-axis and business performance marked on the y-axis. In the graph, above a point on the x-axis labeled "present," is a circle labeled "now." A segmented arrow, labeled "how," leads upward from it to the right, to another circle labeled "where (future goals)," which lies above a point on the x-axis labeled "future."

Figure 3.1: where is the ‘WHERE’?

Most strategies take the future for granted, assuming future conditions will be similar to those of today, and presenting the achievement of future goals as a fait accompli.

  1. How is your business performing NOW?
  2. What is your vision for WHERE you want to take your business?
  3. What are your key strategies as to HOW you will get there?

Which begs the question: Just where is the ‘WHERE’? What are the different future contexts or conditions in which your goals might have to be achieved?

Not that this particular organisation is uniquely guilty ...

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