Driving the Future of Innovation

With Russia's war in Ukraine threatening Europe, a global pandemic locking down manufacturing in China, interest rates rising, and a revolution in the workplace happening all at once, decision-makers are being challenged as never before to see what's next, think ahead of the curve, and avoid being blindsided by accelerating change.

In my "managing the future" sessions, decision-makers learn new mindsets, and master new tools for driving the future of innovation. The post-pandemic world is a whole new dimension in navigating effectively and driving the future of innovation. Here's why.

A multitude of powerful megatrends -- which I call Driving Forces of Change -- have the potential to create new winners and sudden disasters in their wake. Mega-developments like deglobalization, digitization, climate change, crypto and the aging of America are just a few of the driving forces of change that now are pulverizing "normality." And while each driving force has the potential to disrupt or to advance, each can also spell boom or doom to the organization.

What organizations need desperately right now are new ways of planning for the future amidst great uncertainty. Needed now are new ways of driving growth through innovation and meeting changing customer demands. To embrace the future, it will be necessary to let go of ideas that no longer are relevant, to unlearn as well as to learn new methods of looking, thinking and acting ahead of the curve.

Key question for you and your fellow decision-makers: how do you and your team spot emerging trends or do you wait and see what others are doing about changes? And what process do you use to turn change into opportunity? If you're not satisfied with your answers to these questions, now may be the time to take action.

In the "Managing the Future" sessions I lead, management teams and/or innovation teams explore consumer, political, technological, economic, regulatory, demographic, lifestyle and social trends. Using a variation of SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) we bore into the driving forces, mining for gold. And because Covid 19 showed us how developments on the periphery can suddenly wreak havoc on our business model, risk mitigation and risk-management need to be part of the training.

A big piece of this new environment is understanding the challenge of linear change versus exponential change. "Trying to grasp non-linear change is enormously challenging because it's just not how we are wired," notes the futurist Tom Koulopoulos. "We think in linear terms because that is what we've observed in how the natural world operates. It's how we've made predictions about the future for millennia. From throwing a rock at fast-moving prey, to figuring out the crop yield of a field, to shooting a rocket at the moon, linear thinking has allowed us to make accurate predictions about the future."

Increasingly, though, the world is exponential. Change is being driven by technologies that do not progress in a linear manner. Most of us are not ready for this rate of change.

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