A Study of How Companies Enhance Their Strategies through Foresight Procedures to Anticipate and More Appropriately Prepare for Change
Abstract: Background: The traditional approach of strategy emphasizes the role of planning as a main driver for success. Thus, in an environment with a low propensity for change, managers are able to predict the market evolution and therefore allocate wisely their resources in order to optimize the company's actions. However, markets are substantially more dynamic and managers are faced with higher and more complex level of uncertainty. In such climates, anticipating and understanding change is becoming increasingly relevant and top companies are not just competing in the present, but also into the future. Purpose: To uncover and discuss how companies can enhance their strategies through procedures for anticipating and more appropriately preparing for change. This will consist of understanding how companies gain foresight and relevant types of information about potential future changes, how companies understand what these changes mean in terms of their context and their future, and, finally, how they respond once they have gained an understanding. Methodology: The research has a qualitative approach and is based four case studies. Both secondary and primary data were used. The primary data collection was conducted with through structured interviews. Conclusions: Managers need not resort to costly or time consuming tools for enhancing their foresight insight and their strategies. Instead, they should constantly be aware of inherent biases, use counterfactual thinking and challenge their own mental models as well as the resulting views and understandings. Without doubting the mental models first and foremost, companies can innovate only incrementally. Furthermore, managers need to understand the potential of open foresight and the power within the company’s networks. In this way, they can distance themselves from the trend-impact-reaction cycle. Finally, companies should adopt a more anticipatory approach, rather than one which sustains the industry on order to better shield their strategies from disruptive change.
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