We're big fans of the "lean startup" concept. Iterating rapidly with customers, failing fast, minimum viable product and all of that. Technology changes fast, the Ubers of the world scale rapidly and unravel entire industries. It makes sense to unfetter actions from corporate decision processes and unleash our entrepreneurial geist.

Many business leaders have become enchanted by the notion that “execution beats strategy.” Sure, beautiful strategy often fails in execution. Spending too much time on strategic analyses and 200-slide decks prevents us from making things happen. Get out and execute!

Technology changes, new platforms scale rapidly and disrupt entire industries. We need to free our actions from the boardroom and unleash our entrepreneurial minds. Understandably business leaders have become obsessed with moving fast. Speed is a great thing. Unless you’re moving in the wrong directions.

Real strategy cannot emerge without foresight.

Robert Wolcott of Kellog School of Management: "This feels right, but when misapplied this insight suggests we don’t have to do the hard work of real strategy development. This is a dangerous misconception. The ironic result of rapid, non-linear change in the economy is that companies must both iterate fast in the near term, and have better, longer-term foresight. Real strategy cannot emerge without foresight."


Wolcott says real strategy converts the mission of our company — why you exist — into your vision for our future.

  • What kind of company do you aspire to become?
  • How do we hope to win the game in the future?
  • In which markets and capabilities will we invest?
  • How might we position ourselves to thrive as the world changes?

These are fast moving targets, so strategy must rapidly evolve. As such, real strategy can’t emerge without foresight.


Foresight isn’t about prediction, it’s about defining multiple plausible futures. What are the trends and forces we can discern and what implications do they have for the future? Then, applying foresight means identifying leading indicators to track how the world is actually trending.

Between conception and market introduction things will have changed and make it necessary to involve future trends in the product and company strategy.

Entrepreneurs of small and medium sized companies don’t have much time or money to spend on doing extensive research in order to develop their innovation plans. Their foresight is usually determined by the gut feeling of few boardmembers. Their size gives them a natural edge over corporates when it comes to speed. But as stated above it makes them also more vulnerable when they move in the wrong direction. Things can get pretty ugly, really fast when things go haywire.

A corporate foresight program can't be copied for SMB's. Which is why TomorrowLab used its 20 years of experience to develop an SMB Innovation program: DNA (Dynamic Near-term Assessment). Tailored to their needs, so there's no excuse anymore for moving fast without strategy.

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