Corporate Foresight

The continuous need for companies to explore and develop new business fields, when their current business fields become unprofitable requires a strategic approach to anticipate future developments, formulate goals and steps to rearch those goals. Corporate foresight is an ability that includes any structural or cultural element that enables the company to detect discontinuous change early, interpret the consequences for the company, and formulate effective responses to ensure the long-term survival and success of the company

There is a range of challenges that make it so difficult for organizations to respond to external change:

  • shortening of product life-cycles,
  • increased technological change,
  • increased speed of innovation, and
  • increased speed of the diffusion of innovations

Large organizations often suffer from a “lock-in” situation, meaning the inherent “ignorance” that results from a time frame that is too short for corporate strategic-planning cycles to produce a timely response, the failure to detect changes in the corporate environment, an overflow of information that prevents top management to assess the potential impact, important information that does not reach the appropriate management level, and instead is systematically filtered by middle management that aims to protect their business unit. This lock-in usually goes hand in hand with a certain level of inertia within the corporation, especially if it is a vey large organisation. This is due to the complexity of internal and external structures, and extensive focus on current technologies that lead to cognitive inertia that inhibits organizations to perceive emerging technological breakthroughs.

there are specific challenges in applying the methods of future studies in businesses. The methodological design and the implementation of the methods often prove to be difficult. Among the reasons for these problems are lack of knowledge, processes that take too long, limited human and financial resources as well as difficulties in communicating the results. The identification of these problem areas made it possible to derive a set of requirements that the methods of future studies have to meet so as to be applicable to businesses: they have to be easily learnable, transparent, motivational and easily communicable. Further,

measurability, the capability to tie in with other methods, the scalability of the method and possibilities for collaboration are important.

EFP Brief No. 239: Corporate Foresight – A Delphi Study

EFP Brief No. 101: Corporate Foresight in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises