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Stage 2: Explore the Future

How to gain actionable insights into your customers’ needs and create opportunities from disruptive trends within your industry.

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the fast pace of change within your industry or ever fear that you can’t keep up with shifting customer demands?

Unsure what the big deal is about TikTok or catch yourself wondering if your newest offer is already obsolete?

You are not alone. Consumer demands are evolving at a dizzying pace and many businesses fail to respond fast enough. Blackberry. Kodak. Blockbuster. These are all examples of business models that failed to recognize and respond in time to customers’ changing demands and industry disruptors.

So how do you gain meaningful insight into customers’ lives and disruptive trends? This is what you discover in our Explore the Future stage in our five-stage approach to Becoming a Future Proof organization.

Note: This blog post is the second in a series of five as we explore each stage of Future Proof’s methodology to Becoming a Future Proof organization. If you are new to our methodology, check out this post for an overview of our approach!

Explore the Future is the second stage of Future Proof’s methodology. This stage uses design thinking practices and data analytics to help you understand (and anticipate) your customers’ changing needs, emerging trends within your industry, and how you can utilize your existing assets to capitalize on these changes. The Explore stage also ignites organizational curiosity and equips your organization with a growth mindset to anticipate and meet the demands of tomorrow.

At the end of the Explore the Future stage, you will have:

At the end of the Define Ambition stage, you will have developed:

✓ Engaged directly with potential customers to understand their changing needs, behaviors, and pain points
✓ Gained data-driven insights on your industry’s current playing field and emerging trends, such as technological disruptors and pending regulation
✓ Explored how you can leverage your current assets to meet future demands and produce new and disruptive value propositions
✓ Fostered an organizational growth mindset within your organization

Understanding your customers’ pain points and anticipating their future needs

 

“We are not thinking machines that feel, we are feeling machines that think.” Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Laureate in economics

What do your customers really want? What will they want tomorrow? Your organization has probably poured countless man hours and resources into answering those two questions. You may have already invested in focus groups, customer surveys, and prototype testing. However, getting to the heart of how your customers tick and unlocking what they really feel and need can be a difficult process.

This is where our Strategy Designers step in. During the first part of the Explore the Future stage, our Strategy Designers help you and your organization gain empathy and glean deep insights into both your existing and potential customers. Empathy – defined as the ability to understanding of another’s experiences, feelings, or motives – is critical to anticipate and effectively meet a customer’s needs, and is, therefore, at the core of our customer discovery methods. Through customer empathy experiences, observations, and behavioral insights, you will delve into customers’ pain points and future needs.

Our Strategy Designers coach you in putting aside your assumptions, opinions, even supposed knowledge about your customers, and letting your customers lead you through their daily lives and challenges to reveal potential opportunities for your organization. You will explore customers’ current workarounds – how they are ‘getting around’, or temporarily solving their pain points – and explore how your organization could better step in to meet those needs.

Want to learn more about why and how customer discovery can help your organization deliver desirable (and profitable!) value propositions? Read more about the nuts and bolts of customer discovery in this post!

Identifying and responding to change and disruption with your industry

 

Unforeseen disruptions are now a market constant. AirBnB and the rise of the sharing economy. Climate change regulations and bans on plastics. Embedded intelligence and machine learning marketing. While disruptive industry trends spell the demise of static strategies, they also create vast new opportunities. But only for organizations that identify and proactively respond to these trends.

This is exactly what we help you do during the second part of the Explore the Future stage. Our Strategy Designers work with you to explore your industry’s playing field, its current constraints, as well as emerging trends and opportunities. This includes how current regulations and future legislation (think: the EU Climate Law) that may affect your organization.

We provide you with market data on cutting-edge trends and potential disruptors. You are probably tired of hearing about trends in globalization and automation, but how about the impact of high-capacity batteries, rising sea levels, or the circular economy on your organization? Our Strategic Designers present relevant and evidence-based analysis to help you investigate potential value you could offer tomorrow’s customers. We lend our knowledge and expertise in technological advancements, sustainability considerations, and emerging trends in business to guide discussions on future market needs and possibilities.

Exploring your organization’s existing assets to add future value

 

Regardless of industry or business size, your customer discovery and industry outlook exercises will undoubtable uncovers risks and gaps to your current business model.

These gaps are nothing to be worried about. Quite the opposite, in fact.

These gaps are opportunities for innovation and future growth that you will be capitalizing on in the next stages of Becoming Future Proof. But you won’t be innovating from an empty drawing board. During the last part of the Explore the Future stage, you will explore different possibilities of how you can use your organization’s existing assets to meet changing consumer demands. Using business model canvases and trend maps, we will help you capture the assets of your organization that you can use for future value creation.

Working with these canvas tools provides you with a highly visual yet structured way to capture your learnings and spark conversations within your organization. Future Proof’s Trend Map, for example, helps you with an eagle eye’s view of your industry’s shifting landscape and potential disruptors. This tool can easily be kept up to date to guide future decision-making processes.

Want to try out Future Proof’s Trend Map? Request the PDF version here or save the image below. We would love to hear your experience in implementing our Trend Map – drop your observations and questions in the comment box below!

Sparking a growth mindset culture

 

Throughout the Explore the Future stage, you learn how to unlock a growth mindset within your organization. From customer discovery experiences to industry disruption discussions, our Strategy Designers teach and instil a growth mindset culture within your team. Why do we think a growth mindset is important? Well, a growth mindset culture creates an organization that embraces and leverages disruption, rather than fearing it. A growth mindset culture sparks curiosity and innovation, allowing your organization to pivot when needed.

Business management guru, Peter Drucker, famously claimed: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Organizations with strong growth mindset cultures have proven again and again the wisdom of this maxim. We help you unlock such a culture so you can successfully navigate uncertain business futures.

At the end of the Explore the Future stage, you will have a clear understanding of your customers’ needs and you will have charted promising directions to adapt to a shifting playing field.

But what future proposition or direction will deliver the greatest value? Read about how you can use divergent thinking and source inspiration from the unconventional to generate desirable value propositions and new business models, Design Value, the third stage in Future Proof’s five-stage methodology

Do you still have questions about the Explore the Future stage of our methodology? Please 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.

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.