by Babette Bensoussan, Director, The MindShifts Group
When I was asked to write on the theme of “What does it mean to be future ready?” I thought no problem. There is so much information out there that it would be an easy blog to write.
After all, today we have more information sources available to us as well as wonderful search capabilities that there really is very little we cannot find out. However, I believe this is where the problem starts.
It got me thinking – as a competitive intelligence practitioner – what does it really mean to be future ready? If I look at this question from a competitive intelligence (CI) perspective then my answer must always suggest options for being future ready.
So what does that mean?
Let me start with the original question itself. What are the assumptions here – are they positive or negative? Does the question relate to individual future readiness or organisational future readiness? What are some critical uncertainties around the future that would impact anyone’s readiness?
I would need to be clear about these factors before I drive through the plethora of information. Otherwise I am like a man with a buoy bobbing up and down in a sea of information and going nowhere.
And talking about the plethora of information…. It is not just the information that is available on the internet or has been published that is important. Rather when it comes to the future, it is important to talk to people. Yes, I know you can ask people on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for answers however I really wonder how many people would answer an unknown. Most of us are unknown. We don’t have familiar names or great swaths of followers like Ashton Kutcher or Lance Armstrong.
This means we need to go forth and seek answers from people who may have an idea of what any plausible future will look like. From an organisational perspective that could mean talking to academics, journalists, futurists, customers, suppliers, distributors to just name a few. Many of them may not have published their future developments or intentions on the internet for you to find via a single search on Google!
Let’s say I now have all this information and am well informed about possible futures. Does that make me future ready? In my opinion, absolutely not.
I would suggest we need to analyse the information in light of our current situation. This is without a doubt one of the weakest steps as managers and individuals we face. Analysis is the cornerstone for insights yet far too often we see summaries instead!!
As an organisation for example, all the information needs to be analysed in context of the organisation’s capabilities, strengths, weaknesses, etc to identify the gaps it needs to address to be future ready, irrespective of the future that plays out. Some suggested analytical techniques that would help here would be techniques such as Scenario Analysis, Critical Success Factors, Driving Forces Analysis, even SWOT (done properly mind you – not the silly little four boxes!!).
The output of these techniques would identify options, opportunities, and threats that an organisation could address to make itself future ready. This is the real insight.
To be future ready for me is not just about knowing what future may likely play out but about being prepared and alert to meet any future with the best possible advantage. What do you think?
Babette Bensoussan is passionate about CI, is a SCIP Meritorious Recipient and a best selling author. For more information on her work visit http://www.mindshifts.com.au/