Adapting foresight practices to firm’s needs

UnknownIn a recent article Patrick van der Duin and Erik den Hartigh present a convincing argument for the need to adapt corporate foresight practices to the firm that applies them. More specifically they look at how corporate foresight is integrated with strategic and innovation management.

They start by extracting from literature different needs of strategic  management that could potentially be fulfilled by corporate foresight, including:

  • Strategic intent analysis
  • Technology analysis
  • Competency analysis
  • Visioning, backcasting, environmental analysis

When studying the interplay of corporate foresight and innovation management, they identify that their evolution over time has occurred in parallel:

Source (page 342): Van der Duin, P. and E. d. Hartigh (2009). “Keeping the balance. Exploring the link of futures research with innovation and strategy processes.Technology Analysis & Strategic Management 21(3): 333-351.

From my perspective their article points at a to a large extent neglected role of corporate foresight: Its role to provide services to other corporate functions. Patrick and Erik make a great start for this much needed discussion. And I hope it will trigger more thought on this issue!

For my part I was already inspired by an  earlier version of their paper that they presented at a conference. That motivated me to look deeper into how corporate foresight contributes to the innovation capacity of a firm. The following research has  resulted in this paper:

Rohrbeck, R., & Gemünden, H. G. 2011. Corporate Foresight: Its Three Roles in Enhancing the Innovation Capacity of a Firm. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 78(2), 231-243. (open access version) (of which you can also read  a summary in our blog post)

Corporate Foresight for enhancing your innovation capacity!

In a recent article we aimed to establish to what extent corporate foresight supports the innovation effort of a company. We build on our sample of 20 case studies to identify three roles that can be played by corporate foresight. In the figure below we show where along the innovation process a contribution from corporate foresight is possible.

The three roles can enhance the innovation capacity of a firm in different ways:

  • In the strategist role, corporate foresight directs innovation activities by creating a vision, providing strategic guidance, consolidating opinions, assessing and repositioning innovation portfolios, and identifying the new business models of competitors.
  • In the initiator role, corporate foresight triggers innovation initiatives by identifying new customer needs, technologies, and product concepts of competitors.
  • In the opponent role, corporate foresight challenges the innovators to create better and more successful innovations by challenging basic assumptions, challenging the state-of-the-art of current R & D projects, and scanning for disruptions that could endanger current and future innovations.

To access the article you have two options: free pre-print and final article from science direct