The Skills of Strategic Foresight that Drive Innovation by William Malek | Techsauce

The Skills of Strategic Foresight that Drive Innovation by William Malek

After 10 years of experiencing the energy system engineering industry, Mr. William Malek, Senior Executive Director of SEAC Thailand found his interest in management consulting where he focused on a strategy that has been executed for better innovation. He’s also interested in how systems can be transformed into a sustainable one. Techsauce Global Summit 2020 - Special Edition has a privilege to have Mr. William Malek share his perspective on the concept and skills of Strategic Foresight and why it is important for today’s innovation. Furthermore, Mr. Malek shared 9 significance foresight skills that can help drive innovation further, and the qualifications needed to become a foresight specialist. 

William Malek

Mr. Malek begins with the current situation that affected the innovative industry as global pandemic Covid-19 which he believes is a crisis time of both danger and opportunity. Despite not being functional through the situation, it is important to look at the opposite perspective and develop a different solution on how to balance the crisis in such an appropriate way. And before applying the strategic foresight to the innovation, one must understand why this strategy is important to their organisation and say yes to these suggestions which are being the leader during the disruption, willing to make a quick change and accelerate to the situation, and lastly, predicted for the positive future. 

The Wave of Disruption (Wicked Problems)

People would assume that Covid-19 is a big wave disrupting the world’s situation. However, Covid-19 is just a practice stage. To look at a bigger picture, waves of disruption can be categorised into 5 waves and Covid is still at the early stages. He believes humanity will have to face the disruption with such a crucial bigger scale by giving examples of Thailand: The Thai Aging Society and Underwater Bangkok. The situation of an aging society is going to be overwhelming in a short year. It is not just a predictable situation anymore. Thailand’s forced labor is also shrinking rapidly as well.

Another wicked problem is that the predictable of Rising seas will erase Bangkok by 2050. This problem is starting to get a lot of attention. However, people still are not taking this seriously. It is hard to believe that Bangkok is going to be underwater in the next 30 years. These two wicked problems are examples of elements that we can not control which is the reason why we have to elaborate to the strategic foresight idea in hoping that we can indicate to the root of the problem, pay attention to what we look at and try to make sense out of it in terms of innovating and predicting for a better the future. The strategy allows us to shape the future that we want to explore and build towards it. Applying the firm performance strategy has been tested from 2008 to 2015 with a positive result, rising profit at 33%, and 200% higher growth. To be concluded, the significant definition of Strategic Foresight is the process that allows us to shape the future with the ability to create and maintain high-quality content and represent a fusion of future methods. 

9 Skills in Foresight that Drive Innovation.

  1. Executive Sponsorship. Needed for Foresight relates to understanding the other executive leaders and internal and external stakeholders by empathizing, teambuilding, and foresight practicing mindsets. And skill in predicting the uncertain future. Example of Zhang Ruimin, CEO of Haier, who is such an inspiring person to his employees. He has a vision for taking the business globally. And this inspires his management team to follow his vision as well which only a few people can make it happen. 
  2. Learning is about scoping the organization needs. It is including learning above or beyond the information that you have already been given. Sometimes you already know it, but this skill set you to think bigger than the picture you already have in your head. It is the ability to learn in many aspects and unlearn the past mistakes or how to deal with it once again. 
  3. Anticipating is identifying a set of convergent, baseline, and expected alternative futures. This includes the ability to identify the potential possible future. Mr. Malek has given an example of a 3M company that they have a strong commitment to expanding the product lines and proven ability to extend innovation value over the long-term. The product first started with such a certain level but now extends to meet high demands. It is shown that strategic foresight can help the business to move forward by setting a specific future and anticipate to archive it. 
  4. Innovating is to generate and brainstorm ideas on how the organisation can implement with the business model they have already designed. It is to convert foresight thinking with design thinking. 
  5. Strategy is to convert all of the options to move towards the future where you want your business to stand. Strategy also enables re-convergence of vision for the preferred future by strategizing, visioning and planning. As 3M did, they were always looking for opportunities to expand their product lines.
  6. Back-Casting is to look for ideas to execute or gaps to fill in for a preferred future. The first step could be to start by defining the business's gap and then look for the organisation resources. 
  7. Executing is translating strategy foresight into action to move your business forward. Start with facilitating interpersonal interactions of organisation and producing to create and implement product outputs. 
  8. Influencing is selling foresight and change management required for organization leaders and stakeholders. Influencing can be done by communicating the related visions to capture stakeholders' attention and influence their actions and selling and convincing value in growing the business. 
  9. Reviewing is measuring and collecting feedback on the quality and results of the foresight work to assess the level of institutionalization and continuous improvement by assessing progress, performance, and capacity. Reviewing also includes feedback on quality and results. 

Mr. Malek has summarized the qualification of being a strategic foresight specialist as he has been asked so many times about this question before. There are many requirements to become a specialist in this field. But the most important part is it requires one to have a passion for foresight truly. Because this position is different from strategic planning. It is more specific as it contains a thinking process and vision for a positive future. 

This is just a sampling of the great content you’ll find at the Techsauce Global Summit 2020. Check out all the sessions here


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