Applying foresight to the process of developing your corporate strategy adds a new dimension to managing risks and identifying opportunities for your company. I particularly enjoy the process of exploring global trends and applying that thinking in order to identify strategic focus areas.
The purpose of foresight is not to predict the future; rather, it is to apply trends or megatrends to your current situation in order to assist you to plan for tomorrow and beyond. In our increasingly globalised and volatile world, where change is the only constant, reviewing global trends to understand their influence on a country, sector or company is becoming all important. The foresight approach is an alternative to traditional tools, such as looking to the past, in order to develop a plan for the future.
The growing importance of strategic foresight is why you should read CSIRO’s latest update of Global Megatrends. CSIRO’s first megatrends report was released in 2010. Last week, a new report, ‘Our Future World – global megatrends that will change the way we live’ was released. It describes six megatrends that will influence our social, economic and environmental futures.
The megatrends that will have a significant influence over our lives in coming twenty years are:
- More from less – growing pressure on our natural resources.
- Going, going, gone – the decline of natural habitat, plant and animal species.
- The silk highway – the rise of the Asian century.
- Forever young – the impact of our aging population.
- Virtually here – increased connectivity.
- Great expectations – personalised services.
I think it is pertinent that one megatrend remains essentially the same between 2010 and the revision of 2012 – “More from Less”. This megatrend is a reflection of increasing demand for resources; food, minerals, energy and water, by an ever increasing global population and growing developing economies.
If we apply this megatrend to the manufacturing sector, we can forecast that sustainable industry concepts such as eco-efficiency, closed loop manufacturing and zero waste will provide benefits to those companies that succeed in implementing them. Furthermore, the ‘more from less’ megatrend reflects the increasing importance of resource efficiency which will drive innovation. Smart companies will pursue resource efficiency to reduce costs. Truly innovative companies will pursue resource efficiency to drive strategic advantage.