Centre for Future Studies
Strategic Futures Research & Analysis

Services

Strategic futures consultants


Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.

Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.


Visioning the future:

The Centre for Future Studies designs and facilitates group visioning workshops and assists groups in integrating the vision to strategy.

  • Sets the vision for the organisation
  • Defines the preferred future for the organisation
  • Draws roadmaps to that preferred future
  • Determines the strategic agenda

Our methods include:

  • Brainstorming/Imagination
  • Creative imagery
  • Synectics (Excursions into the future)
  • Scenario planning
  • Backcasting
  • Roadmapping

Scenario planning

The Centre for Future Studies provides expertise in the design of scenario planning projects and facilitates scenario planning workshops.

The scenarios build an understanding of changes in the business environment, challenge conventional wisdom, identify emerging market opportunities, and enable the formulation of innovative strategic alternatives.

Scenario planning is not about forecasting the future but looking at all the possibilities. It involves using and building on the information already known by people within the organisation, but enriched with external non-traditional perspectives. Scenario work is like a dress rehearsal for the actual performance.

In every case, our scenario planning involves rigorously challenging the mental maps that shape perceptions, in part by tapping unorthodox and provocative sources. We all have blindspots and biases. Moreover, our perceptions are often shaped by our past successes and failures, which may no longer be relevant in a rapidly changing world. A good scenario-planning project expands leaders' peripheral vision and forces them to examine their assumptions.

The scenarios are a platform for continuously re-perceiving the changing business environment and preparing for the new risks and exciting opportunities that will emerge.


Horizon scanning

The Centre for Future Studies provides external scanning resources and expertise and also works with organisations to assist in building an in-house environmental scanning capability.

Horizon scanning is the core of effective futures work and long term thinking. Since strategy is about determining how an organisation positions itself in the external environment, understanding that environment in some depth is critical to achieving that objective. All our projects begin with an environmental scanning component.

Horizon scanning is the art of systematically exploring the external environment to:

  • better understand the nature and pace of change in that environment; and,
  • identify potential opportunities, challenges and likely future developments relevant to your organisation.

Through the scanning process, the organisation builds knowledge of the relevant trends in the external environment that are likely to have a significant impact on the way it does business in the future, and the implications of those trends on the organisation’s strategy today.

Scanning provides information to inform the development of flexible strategies that enable organisations to respond quickly to the changing environment rather than react to it. As one step in a broader strategic development process, scanning helps organisations to create their preferred future.

 

 

Future thinking workshops

The Centre for Future Studies conducts future thinking workshops designed to assist organisations in developing future thinking skills and expertise in house.

 

1. What is future thinking?

This is an introductory half-day workshop on futures ideas, principles and methods. It is designed for those who know nothing or little about futures work, and who want to find out more about how to use futures in their day-to-day work. The workshop provides an overview of the futures imperative, and how to integrate futures into everyday decision making.

 

2. Strategic foresight: What it is and how to do it

The ability of organisations to develop a strategic foresight capacity to identify, understand and respond to future uncertainties is a critical success factor for effective strategy. Strategic foresight is the ability to systematically explore the future to identify drivers of change and to consider potential outcomes to inform strategic decisions. Strategic thinking underpins the development of a strategic foresight capacity, and is the first step in the development of robust strategy.

 

This full day workshop provides participants with an overview of strategic thinking and an introduction to a number of futures tools to support that thinking. Participants will be introduced to environmental scanning, trend analysis and interpretation, and scenario thinking in an interactive and sequential process that provides practical experience of strategic thinking in action.

 

By the end of the workshop, participants will be able to recognise and understand:

  • The essential differences between strategic thinking, strategic decision making and strategic planning, and the different types of methods and logics appropriate at each stage
    The nature of strategic foresight and how to build a foresight capacity in an organisation
  • The ways in which futures tools can be used to enhance strategic thinking.

 

3. Horizon Scanning: What it is and how to do it

All organisations want and need to understand how to position themselves effectively for the future.

There is a sometimes overwhelming amount of information now available about what might happen in an organisation's future operating and competitive environments. How do you decide where to look, let alone know which trends are relevant and based on rigorous analysis, and which are more 'style without substance', and based on subjective speculation?

 

This workshop focuses on building an organisational environmental scanning system to enable organisations to identify the trends that you need to pay attention to now, those that you must monitor over time, and those that are not useful in terms of your strategy development.

 

This one day workshop discusses the undeniable rationale for a scanning system, how to establish an organisational scanning network, where to start looking for relevant information, what tools to use, and how to interpret and make sense of what you find. The final part of the workshop focuses on reporting and communicating what you find in ways that enhance organisational strategic thinking. By the end of the workshop, participants will have developed an action plan to develop an organisational scanning system.

 

Thought leadership: the centre for future studies

Thought Leadership is the recognition from the outside world that the company deeply understands its business, the needs of its customers and the broader marketplace in which it operates.

 

At the Centre for Future Studies, we see thought leadership as the new paradigm for how businesses market themselves and build brand. Thought leadership evolves through the efforts of both individuals and businesses making the commitment to develop a deeper understanding of the specific forces shaping their industry.

 

56% of companies consider Thought Leadership as their second biggest objective for B2B marketing. That’s number two behind building new business as the top priority in the next 3-5 years.

 

Today, thought leadership is becoming the new standard for how people and companies communicate their value to the world and their customers. This includes B2B strategy, marketing, product development, customer support and sales.

 

Thought leadership enables companies to build strategic value in their industry that transcends ad campaigns, PR activities or marketing initiatives. These types of contributions can directly affect a company’s success and brand.

Thought leadership centres on earning trust and credibility. Thought leaders get noticed by offering something different—information, insights, and ideas. Thought leadership positions the company as an industry authority and resource and trusted advisor by establishing its reputation as a contributor to your industry.

Thought leadership has the ability to:

  • Raise company visibility and credibility to the world
  • Educate and reach customers
  • Enlighten the media on the company’s contributions to the market
  • Inspire customers and partners to connect with the company in new and meaningful ways

Our thought leadership programmes include:

Research and Publications: We deliver thought leadership content through depth research, executive surveys and interviews. We prepare client sponsored white papers, executive summaries and media communications. These are not company product or service white papers, but rather research regarding specific industry issues and future trends.

 

Custom Events: We design and conduct thought leadership events that focus on specific topics bringing together various related industry thought leaders to debate and discuss current issues. These types of events help sponsors to gain visibility with senior-level target audiences and can offer invaluable networking opportunities.

We deliver high level research, robust methodology and rigorous analysis that is fully sourced and traceable and we work closely with our clients and their PR agencies to translate this knowledge into powerful media messages.