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Every business should do futures work

The TUTKA project kicked off spring with this year’s first TulevaisuusCamp (Future Camp) on Thursday 5 March. At the event, Tarja Meristö, a futurist working as Principal Lecturer at Laurea University of Applied Sciences, spoke to an audience of entrepreneurs about the principles and different methods of foresight.

If you missed it, don’t worry! We’ve put together some of the key points to help you stay on top of the future.

 

Tutka Tulevaisuuscamp Tarja Meristö

At the event, Tarja Meristö, a futurist working as Principal Lecturer at Laurea University of Applied Sciences, spoke to an audience of entrepreneurs about the principles and different methods of foresight.

 

Why does future work matter?

One thing is for certain: the future is uncertain. But there are things you can do to prepare for the future – and to shape it. Being prepared can help businesses gain competitive edge and survive in the changing world. Every business can benefit from futures research. If you fail to anticipate change, you won’t succeed. This, too, is for certain.

 

Tips on how to do futures research:

1. Think about what alternative scenarios are foreseeable. Try to identify the most likely future, but instead of only focusing on the most probable alternatives you should also include scenarios that are less likely to occur but have a high impact. Work with a long time span covering at least a decade.

Tools for futures thinking:

  • obvious megatrends: globalisation, digitalisation, multiculturalism, climate change, ageing population and resource scarcity. These are some of the megatrends that will affect all businesses, and there are more.
  • weak signals: pay attention to rumours, read the news. The signs are there! Early detection gives competitive edge. Look for things that are currently marginal – these may soon become mainstream.
  • black swans: events that are rare, improbable and have major effects, such as the 9/11 terrorist attack.
  • wild cards, e.g. the impact of artificial intelligence. Will we be the servants? Or the slaves?
  • taboos. What are the things we talk about but don’t act upon? What topics are off-limits?

 

2. Think of different “this might happen” situations and choose 2 to 4. Try to look at things from a new perspective instead of sticking to your own views. Follow the news and keep your eyes open. When you start to see signs pointing towards more than one of these scenarios, be ready to react agile.

 

3. Acknowledge your potential to shape the future.
Could you be a forerunner? Take steps to promote the desired future and prevent the undesirable one.

Henry Ford: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Customers know how to explain their problem but not always the best way to solve it.

This is a major source of competitive leverage: many of your competitors have their eyes on the rear-view mirror, thinking “this is the way things have always been done, and will be done”. If you’re future-oriented, you hold the key to success.

 

4. Take action!
”Success does not come from seeing the future, it comes from making the future”, said Meristö.

What is your ladder towards your vision? What could you do to turn threats into opportunities? ”Do you ride a megatrend or do you use a counter-trend to build success? Each megatrend has its counter-trend.”

You will need to build on whatever special know-how you have. But will this be enough, or will you need new knowledge? A network to help you address future changes? Where will the money come from? How much time will you need?

 

Meristö’s tips – a few points you should consider

– When we talk about resource scarcity we talk about saving the world, but resource scarcity can also be turned into a profitable business. How to turn this megatrend to your advantage?

– In the future employment market, not many of us will hold permanent jobs. How to productise your know-how and make it competitive?

– Is the sustainability trend elitist? We’re used to making sustainable products for those who afford. Does this count as sustainable anymore? What if you made sustainable products but at the lowest cost possible, to make them accessible to everyone?

– Environmental sustainability has already moved into the mainstream. Sustainability is a must, but it won’t help you stand out. So what now – what can you do to stand out?

 

Would you like to learn more about the future? This spring will see four more Camp events organised under the TUTKA project in Porvoo, each with a different theme. There’s still room for a few more participants.

Events coming up this spring:

  1. AsiakastarveCamp (Customer Needs Camp) 18 March at 13–18
    Location: Laurea Campus, Porvoo, Room 1408
  2. LiiketoimintamalliCamp (Business Models Camp) 16 April at 13–18
    Location: Laurea Campus, Porvoo, Room 1513
  3. MarkkinatCamp (Markets Camp) 14 May at 13–18
    Location: Laurea Campus, Porvoo, Room 1408
  4. BrändiCamp (Brand Camp) 4 June at 13–18
    Location: Laurea Campus, Porvoo, Room 1421

 

Interested? Contact us for more information:

Anne Wetterstrand, Business Developer, TUTKA project
anne.wetterstrand@posintra.fi, +358 50 366 0125

 

Read more about the TUTKA project