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Stage 1: Defining Ambition

Our five-stage innovation methodology is an outcome-based approach to developing new value propositions and business models for tomorrow’s customer. But how does our methodology work in practice? This blog post is the first in a series of five as we explore each stage of Future Proof’s methodology to Becoming a Future Proof organization. 

Define Ambation

Define Ambition is the first stage of Future Proof’s methodology. This foundational stage is focused on your team collaboratively shaping a clear and shared vision. Drawing from design thinking and organizational theory practices, the Define stage includes internalizing purpose across your organization, and establishing how you provide real value to customers in order to realize sustainable business growth.

At the end of the Define Ambition stage, you will have developed:
✓ Shared organizational vision
✓ Common organizational worldview
✓ Deep understanding of your customers and how your organization contributes     value – or could contribute value in the future – to these customers
✓ Defined transformation scope for Becoming Future Proof

Importance of a shared organizational vision

If you are like most organizations, you probably already have vision and mission statements displayed in your annual reports and on your website. So, why is it then important to establish a shared organizational vision in the Define stage?  Many organizations’ vision statements are just that: statements. They are words on a page that are not shared and embraced by every employee. They are often created upfront when the organization was just starting out or formulated from an inside out perspective, and they do not place today’s and tomorrow’s customers at the forefront. Most organizational vision statements are vague, rigid, and do not galvanize employees towards a preferred future.

A compelling vision, on the other hand, articulates the direction of the organization and drives the spark of innovation to achieve that desired future. It sets the course for long-term value creation and creates a culture of shared ownership across the organization. With today’s operational contexts shifting so quickly, a successful organizational vision is also flexible enough to adapt to changing realities while remaining concrete enough to foster a shared direction across the organization.

“It’s not the largest companies that will survive but the most adaptable ones.”

– Joe Kaeser on announcing Siemens’ agile corporate strategy, Vision 2020+ based on Charles Darwin.

At Future Proof, we have witnessed firsthand how developing such a shared purpose can drive creativity and resiliency within an organization – allowing an organization to pivot when market changes would otherwise cause a business to fail. We have also observed the galvanizing effect shared ambitions can have on employee motivation and collaboration. This is why we focus on developing a strong shared and adaptable organizational vision during the first stage of our innovation methodology.

Innovation as a Mindset

At the start of the Define Ambition stage, you lay the foundation for an inspiring vision through a deep dive into your organization’s operational environment.  You work in tandem with Future Proof’s Strategy Designers to investigate your organization’s current external environment and where your organization is adding – or not yet adding – value. You explore:

  • Shared worldview: Using our Context Map and Value Proposition Canvas, you map out the broad business landscape in which your organization operates. These canvas tools help you move from a myopic view of your organization today to an expanded worldview of your organization’s place in the markets of tomorrow.
  • Preferred futures: What do you want your customers to say about you in ten years? How will your organization ideally be adding value in twenty years? How do you wish for distribution channels to change?

From the insights gathered through this deep dive, you begin shaping customer-centric ambitions for your organization and developing a common purpose to achieve those ambitions. Working with our canvas tools are also key in developing employee buy-in – a critical component for a strong shared vision that we continue to cultivate in the next phase of Define.

Shaping shared ownership for your organizational vision

“Every single person, every single organization on the planet knows what they do, 100 percent….but very very few people or organizations know why they do what they do.”

— Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

An organizational vision reaches its full impact when it is shared by all or a magnitude of employees – it becomes a unifying force in driving innovation and collaboration. However, gaining employee buy-in is an elusive goal for many organizations. Often, a small group of people craft and write a vision with the hope that the rest of the organization will adopt it. And more than often, these hopes are disappointed.

To ensure your vision is shared by your workforce, you need to bring together key internal stakeholders to shape your organizational vision and future ambitions. Either a representational group of employees or – in some cases – all employees can be consulted as part of this feedback process.  This collaboration not only shapes a strong shared vision but also fosters a culture of shared ownership and directed creativity.

During the second part of Define stage, Future Proof works with you to collaborate with employees on defining and sharing your organizational vision. Our Strategy Designers can facilitate joint workshops with you to synthesize and articulate your organizational vision, mission, and ambitions across your organization. This includes visual storytelling, further iterations of our canvas tools, and vision launch events with teams. At the end of the process, you will have a shared organizational direction to ignite change and creative action within your organization.

Defining the scope of transformation

After gaining a shared organizational vision, you define the ambitions of your innovation project during the last phase of Define. At Future Proof, we believe in starting out small and letting results speak for themselves to drive further transformation within an organization. Therefore, at the end of the Define stage, you narrow in on a particular area to future-proof and transform throughout the remaining stages. This could be a product line, a certain service, or a business area. With input from our Strategy Designers, you identify an area of opportunity and backlog additional areas for transformation for the future. Working modularly like this allows you to experiment and test transformations while still exploiting your core business.

You are now equipped with an inspiring and shared vision to ignite innovative transformation within your organization – what’s next? Read about unpacking customer insights and developing a clear understanding of future customer needs in Explore, stage two of Future Proof’s five-stage methodology.

Do you still have questions about the Define stage of our methodology?

Please let us know and reach out to us here to discover how we can empower your organization to gain clarity of its position in the market and chart your success in tomorrow’s world.