Mike Tyson once said: “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face”. In other words, it's good to have a strategic plan, but it's better to be prepared when a crisis hits. Also, strategy is never a finished product. It must constantly adapt to unexpected events and new trends. In this article, we open our toolbox and share some of our techniques for future-proofing your strategy.

Tip 1: Explore the future(s)

Running a business means facing an uncertain future. Who knows what will happen in 10 years? Particularly in times of rapid change, it's essential to consider multiple possible scenarios. Using strategic foresight methodology, you can explore a wide range of potential futures that may impact your organisation.

Through foresight exercises, like scenario planning, you can proactively manage uncertainty and map out different outcomes. As the TomorrowLab team says, "We cannot predict the future, but we can imagine it." The result? You'll be better equipped to handle uncertainty, make informed decisions about the future, and lead your organisation through whatever comes your way.

Tip 2: Challenge your strategy

If you want a strong, future-proof strategy, waiting around is not an option. You need to explore different scenarios and see how your strategy would hold up in the face of possible external events, trends, or challenges. This is called stress testing your strategy. Much like wind tunnels help engineers optimize the performance and safety of buildings, bridges, and vehicles.

By stress-testing your strategy, you can discover potential weaknesses and risks. It also helps to identify opportunities for innovation and improvement, allowing you to refine your strategy and make it more effective.

Tip 3: Involve your innovative minds

Creating a successful strategy shouldn't be confined to the boardroom. On the contrary. It's essential to involve the innovative minds within your organisation. By engaging these employees and embracing feedback and encouraging ownership, you not only make them feel valued but also provide them with a broader perspective of what is happening outside their own company.

Start-ups and scale-ups typically have more flexibility and agility than larger companies, they react faster to trends and are often closer to their end customer. Focus on talent and innovation is more embedded in their culture. Bureaucracy and hierarchy can slow down the larger organisations. They can learn from start-ups and scale-ups. Installing an innovation culture, encouraging and empowering employees can be a useful approach for larger companies.

Tip 4: Prioritize - Focus is king

Staying focused is hard when so many fast developments are pulling you off track. However, prioritization is crucial. Steve Jobs said that he was as proud of the things he didn't do as the things he did do, illustrating how saying "no"to a thousand things is essential to effective innovation.

One approach is to always stay connected to your current customers and their needs. It's also important to align your innovation strategy with your portfolio management. Innovation portfolio management involves identifying, selecting, prioritizing, and allocating resources to innovation initiatives. By using criteria that align with your strategic goals, you can select the innovation initiatives that are most likely to drive success for your organisation.

Tip 5: Make TIME for strategic conversations

How do you organise strategic thinking and conversations when you have your hands full with day-to-day operations, let alone transformation? The answer is simple: you have to. This could be a dedicated time slot or a dedicated meeting. As you implement your strategies, be sure to track progress and measure success. This will help you make informed decisions and adjust as necessary.

We often to organize strategic meetings with our customers each quarter and/or annually. Today a lot of customers work with OKR or OPME methodology to structure their strategy and innovation process. “OKR” stands for Objectives and Key Results. OKRs are a goal-setting and leadership tool for communicating what you want to accomplish and what milestones you’ll need to meet in order to accomplish it. The idea behind OPMEs is that you can successfully achieve the organisation's mission by doing three things: you build a coherent structure of goals (Objectives), you regularly measure progress toward those goals (Progress Metrics) and you learn from the deviation from your estimate (Estimates). There are different ways to do it, but which one you prefer depends on your companies’ set-up and culture. There is no one size fits all, you need to see what works best for your organisation.

It's important to use insights such as early warning signals and trends as input, both within your own industry and beyond. Strategic thinking is an ongoing process that may require adaptation and adjustment based on new information and feedback.

Tip 6: Communicate your strategy

What is your vision? Do your employees know your corporate strategy at all? Very often they don't. And yet, if you want to get the most out of their talents, it's so important that they understand your company's way forward. Create a communications plan and make sure your strategy is understandable to everyone employees, customers, investors and partners.

You could visualise your strategy in a strategy roadmap, draw a strategy map or create a strategic plan. You can use visuals such as infographics, charts and storytelling to communicate your business strategy more effectively. At the very least, repeat your message consistently to ensure that your strategy is embedded in the company culture and that everyone is working towards the same goals.

Ready to look into the future?

Then get in touch with one of our experts. We will be happy to open our strategy toolbox for you.

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Willem-Jan Jacobs
Willem-Jan Jacobs Sales Director