You don’t need to look hard to find examples of companies that failed to adapt to the changing business and technology landscapes of their time. From Kodak to Britannica, the headlines have been littered with former brand icons which now find themselves struggling to survive in our ever-changing and volatile environment.

In an attempt to avoid a similar fate, many companies have beefed up strategic planning functions, hired over-paid consultants, and attempted to data-mine their way through uncertainty.  Some have even launched internal insight groups in hopes of staying relevant, mistakenly believing that trend spotting is enough to remain competitive and viable.  We all know that there’s new book written about “trends” about every 15 minutes. If responding to change was simply about recognizing trends, these growing volumes would certainly make us all a whole lot smarter in terms of preparing for the future.

The truth is that creating a resilient, future-fit organization has very little to do with staying abreast of trends.  After all, if trends are concepts that everyone can recognize, then they are really about the present – what is already happening. They aren’t about what is emerging on the horizon that will catch you unprepared or present new opportunities that need to be seized at the leading edge.

Our uncertain and complex environment is making the practice of adjusting to trends a relic of the industrial age, and only those organizations that invest in developing an integrated foresight competency will succeed.

During my tenure as Disney’s futurist, I had the unique opportunity to champion the effort of creating an internal foresight division.  Through this process, it became clear to me that corporate foresight efforts face a number of pitfalls:

  • They have a risk management charter
  • They leverage mechanical approaches
  • They stop at the tip of the iceberg
  • They focus too much on the future
  • They operate in a silo

We unpack these mistakes—and how to avoid them—in our presentation, “Addressing the Gap: Developing Corporate Foresight Through Competency Building”.

So to save your corporate foresight efforts in the long term, remember one thing: you need to build an an integrated, holistic program that has the ability to alter organizational culture.  It is through the creation of such a culture of futures thinkers that business processes are transformed, innovation is inspired and profit targets are surpassed.