2nd Edition

Corporate Foresight Anticipating the Future

    234 Pages 47 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    234 Pages 47 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The world changes like the patterns in a kaleidoscope: trends expand, contract, break up, melt, disintegrate and disappear, while others are formed. Change – as opposed to stasis – is our normal condition, the only certainty in our lives, hence the need to create tools that provide organizations with the means to tackle change and navigate complexity. We must accept the reality of constant change and be prepared for a heavy shift in perspective: interconnection versus separation, acceleration versus linearity and discontinuity versus continuity.

    Anticipating the future requires more than the traditional predictive models (forecasting) based on the forward projection of past experiences. Advanced methods use anticipation logic (foresight) and build probable scenarios taking into account weak signals, emerging trends, coexisting presents and potential paths of evolution.

    Corporate foresight is fundamental to interpret and lead change. The two cornerstones of foresight are organization and management. As concerns organization, the authors advocate the separation of research (oriented to the market of tomorrow) from development (oriented to the market of today), the establishment of a foresight unit and the concentration of research activities mainly on the acquisition and recombination of external know-how. As regards management, after an overview of state-of-the-art literature on forecasting methods, the authors propose the implementation of a "future coverage" methodology, which enables companies to measure and verify the consistency between trends, strategic vision and offered products. These organizational and managing tools are then tested in a case study: the Italian company Eurotech SpA, a leader in the ICT sector.

    PART I Anticipating the future

    1 The future is increasingly unpredictable, near and singular

    1.1 All is not as it seems

    1.2 Complex events cannot be predicted

    1.3 Systems are increasingly interdependent

    1.4 We live in exponential times

    1.5 The future comes like a cat

    1.6 In every field, responses are greatly amplified

    1.7 Bifurcation and the butterfly effect

    1.8 Change is interconnected, accelerated and discontinuous

    2 Innovation shapes the future

    2.1 The dominant design

    2.2 Innovation is born at the periphery

    2.3 Innovation is a successful disobedience

    2.4 Innovation is coevolution: The Barbarians

    2.5 Innovation is exaptation: The panda’s thumb and the spandrels of St. Mark’s Basilica

    3 Responding to complexity

    3.1 The foresight approach

    3.2 Flexibility

    3.3 Promptness

    3.4 Resilience

    3.5 Detecting weak signals

    3.6 Understanding trends

    3.7 Building scenarios

    4 Anticipating the future

    4.1 From forecasting to foresight

    4.2 We need new abilities to find the right answers

    4.3 Different presents, multiple paths, possible scenarios

    4.4 The history of foresight

    4.5 Foresight for countries, for sectors, for companies

    PART II Organizing and managing corporate foresight

    5 Corporate foresight

    5.1 Foresight for companies

    5.2 The roots of corporate foresight

    5.3 The objectives of corporate foresight

    5.4 Resistance to corporate foresight

    5.5 How to overcome resistance

    5.6 The two pillars of corporate foresight

    6 The first pillar of corporate foresight: Organization

    6.1 The bygone era of research and development

    6.2 Research and development: A failed relationship

    6.3 Foresight and research: A wedding announcement

    6.4 Connection and development: A new partnership

    6.5 Acquisitions versus research

    6.6 Foresight as scouting

    6.7 Ways of organizing foresight

    6.8 The promoters of foresight

    7 The second pillar of corporate foresight: Management

    7.1 The four branches of corporate foresight

    7.2 The corporate foresight process

    7.3 Foresight methodologies

    8 The "future coverage" approach

    8.1 The problem of strategic coherence

    8.2 The framework of our approach

    8.3 The study of trends, vision and products

    8.4 Coherence analysis between trends, vision and products

    PART III Foresight in Eurotech SpA

    9 Trends in the ICT sector

    9.1 Trends and megatrends

    9.2 ICT trends and megatrends

    9.3 The trend of man–machine symbiosis according to Eurotech

    10 Foresight in Eurotech: Organizational aspects

    10.1 Eurotech as a factory of ideas

    10.2 Foresight, research and development in Eurotech

    10.3 The separation of research from development

    10.4 The foresight unit

    10.5 The scientific committee and the research network

    10.6 The strategy of partnerships and acquisitions

    10.7 Minority interests as real options for innovation

    10.8 Soft factors

    10.9 Lesson learned for the organization

    11 Foresight in Eurotech: Managerial aspects

    11.1 Trend analysis (T)

    11.2 Vision analysis (V)

    11.3 Product analysis (P)

    11.4 Trends–vision coherence analysis (1)

    11.5 Vision–products coherence analysis (2)

    11.6 Trends–products coherence analysis (3)

    11.7 Validity evaluation

    11.8 Lesson learned for the management

    PART IV Imagination reveals the future

    12 Conclusion

    Afterword: Foresight is possible

    Afterword: Perceiving the future or creating it?




    Alberto F. De Toni is currently rector of the University of Udine and general secretary of the Conference of Italian University Rectors (CRUI). Former head of the Engineering Department of the University of Udine and president of the Italian Association of Industrial Engineering and Management, he is Professor of Operations Management and Management of Complex Systems.

    Roberto Siagri is president and CEO of Eurotech SpA, of which he was a founder. He has a degree in Solid State Physics and has worked in the field of computer architectures. His current interests include human–machine interaction and the applicative scenarios of cloud computing.

    Cinzia Battistella is associate professor at the University of Udine. She has participated in foresight studies at the Area Science Park in Trieste and has explored future-related issues in the sectors of agrifood, telecommunications and e-governance.