Our 21 Messages on the Future Beyond Innovation

Ushering in a new era of change, innovation and transformation for the 2020s — we’ve got 21 reasons we wrote this book.

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PAINTING the future beyond innovation (REASONS #1-5)

The world clearly does not need another innovation book (there are over 60,000 of them!).  What it does need is a new, better avenue to grow, succeed and win. We think we’ve created it with Futureproofing : Next.

REASON #1 — THE FUTURE BEYOND INNOVATION - times change, so should your thinking.

Sure, we’ll admit it. We think we can build a better future and world beyond innovation. Our book shares a healthy dissatisfaction with the status quo, With Futureproofing : Next, we have constructed a fresh approach & new mindset to how organizations should conduct themselves in what we classically call “change, transformation, innovation & growth”. In practice, well under a quarter of these efforts succeed. Incalculable wasted time, resource, credibility & energy are the results. Schools & tools in vogue for the last 60+ years are being used for our now smarter, connected age – we think it’s about time for a change.

Reason #2 — The promise of Better, Bigger, Bolder & Simpler Futures, too often corporates examine today, fuelled by yesterday.

We are on a mission to get organizations unstuck. Today’s companies are way too anchored to previous successes and way too wedded to the how things have always been done. Futureproofing : Next declares a credible, provocative new path to delivering change and impact in a rapidly evolving society, marketplace and technosphere. To get there, leaders need to work in a sweet spot that blends innovation + strategy + change delivery + market sensors + futures + sensemaking + scaling + culture.

Reason #3 — NEW LEXICON - companies need to get out of their small boxes & into INNOVATION++, FUTUREPROOFING & NEXTING.

The aperture that people see their innovation agenda through is so tighteningly narrow. The winning organizations demonstrating impact are not just creating new stuff, they are configuring entirely new experiences, business models & ecosystems of value. Traditional launch thinking is so inadequate we had to create new vernacular for what we are describing. R&D needs to become Innovation++. Innovation needs to become Futureproofing. Launching new products & services needs to become a continuous state of Nexting. To succeed, change has to break out of the boxes it has put itself in.

Reason #4 — We are not a retrofit; F:N is a new manifesto for change - in tackling the biggest sins, we built a new vantage point.

Futureproofing ; Next is a new point of departure. It’s designed to address the shortcomings of traditional change models that have led to the five biggest industry afflictions above. We have come to recognize the need for a fundamentally new innovation-led growth practice that reflects what companies really need. Today, we don’t have time for the kinds of five-year planning exercises we’ve used in the past. Today, we need to galvanize the best of strategy, innovation, emergence science/research, customer insights and future sensors into one approach. Today, we need futureproofing.

Reason #5 — INNOVATION HAS FAILED US - perhaps it has under-delivered, or maybe we expected too much from it.

Futurists are a bridge too far. Agile-ists think too small. Design thinking doesn’t know when to stop iterating & moving beyond empathy. Time horizons never get past Horizon 1. Open innovation, lean startup & business model generation all have their strengths, but none were designed as an end-to-end system to bring the right ideas to market-at-scale. Mastering front-, middle- and back-end innovation is essential. The Goldilocks sweet spot – FUTUREPROOFING …. an answer to taking agency for our futures.

A PRACTITIONER’S PLAYBOOK FOR CHANGE (REASONS #6-10)

We set about to make a different type of argument on how organizations anywhere from fifty to five million people can change, grow and innovate. For change agents inside and supporting these companies, we didn’t want to explain phenomena, or pontificate, we wanted to actually help.

REASON #6 — We are a PRACTITIONER’S TOOLBOX - designed with, and for, change leaders and innovators TRYING TO STAY AHEAD.

We have developed a set of 18 canvases and 50+ tools that are genuinely trying to answer the questions that corporate innovators have, and either don’t have the time, background, experience or perspective to answer, F:N is proprietary good thinking that will allow practitioners to lead and contribute to efforts right out of the box. More than three-quarters of leaders believe they are being out-innovated*. With Futureproofing ; Next, we’ll make sure they never feel that way again.

Reason #7 — The CORPORATE TAILWINDS HAVE CHANGED - the ethos & factors that used to grow bigger companies are extinct.

The speed of the marketplace, technology pace, unrelenting customer demand, shifting cultural expectations, mercurial cross-industry domains and pressing societal needs have advanced at a breakneck pace. The half-life of an idea has shrunk to nothing. Stakes are higher now – the risk of doing nothing is so much greater, and the reward for moving early has concomitantly grown. Futureproofing : Next addresses that corporate innovation has moved from being a methodical game of chess to now rapid fire poker.

Reason #8 — DESIGNED FOR CORPORATE INNOVATION & SCALEUPS - startups are shiny, but corporate change is the major leagues.

As much as we can help startups, we are really a book for corporate innovators,  scaleups and edge groups that live inside them. Bigger can be beautiful again, and it won’t be from simply imitating startups. Discover how we get corporate growth in a higher gear & create bigger impact for good in the world.

Reason #9 — SCALE IS KING - orgs. must achieve growth via better commercialization, leveraging size and balancing risk with speed.

Scale is where most large companies get it wrong*. They may succeed in getting a number of experiments off the ground, but tending to this garden and making it grow is often a bridge too far. They would be wise to borrow a page from their startup cousins and view resources as constraints and time to market & scale sacrosanct. Escape velocity requires mastery of things like: network effects, ecosystem leverage and value chain redesign. Companies need to provide space for new nimbler challenger DNA inside their companies that can commercialize for the digital age. Innovation++ is not just planting the seed, it is growing the crop.

Reason #10 — Our book is CUSTOM-MADE FOR THE FUTURE - our distinctive design, content & extensions are the future of books.

Futureproofing : Next is “not a book” book, intended to help trailblazers plan, guide and align their innovation & transformation efforts for a barely recognizable marketplace, culture & society of tomorrow:

  • It can be ducked into and out, not necessarily read front-to-back
  • It is intensively visual to translate concepts quickly
  • It is canvas-heavy to enable change agents to bring to life concepts in their own worlds
  • We have videos that support and explain each chapter and tool
  • We also want the conversation to evolve and not stay static with multiple platforms of participation

Our goal is to be the dog-eared book that hangs out at the corner of your desk and the supporting website you return back to again and again. With us, Futureproofing & Nexting has no finish line.

A FIELD GUIDE & ROADMAP FOR WHAT ACTUALLY WORKS

(REASONS #11-16)

In conceiving Futureproofing : Next, we ran across many works of literature that gave an interesting academic viewpoint, a diagnostic undertanding or a provocative argument; very few provided an end-to-end guidance system on what to actually do, from lessons garned in real company environments.

Reason #11 — A MARKET-TESTED FIELD GUIDE FOR WHAT ACTUALLY WORKS in the marketplace, and with evidence to prove it.

Futureproofing : Next  has studied over 250 global best companies and identified what they are doing in real marketplace settings.  We’ve reflected these learnings back in our book with case studies, profiles, research and a suite of best practices. Futureproofing : Next is not wishful thinking, design whimsy, academic query or imitate the startup, but instead evidence-based insight with an additional helping of foresight on where all this change is all headed. We’ve explored areas and stake out positions that are only dealt with blushingly in other books (e.g. scaling innovation, business models of the future, routes to innovation). We are zealous about business-altering foresights and introducing effective new-to-the-world approaches & tools that gets business to growth & innovation.

Reason #12 — We’ve built the change roadmap and operating system for the 2020s - “SEE, LEARN, DECIDE, COMMIT.”

“See, Learn, Decide, Commit”  – we have an architecture that although simple in its outlook, is robust enough to be the operating system to guide your change efforts through the biggest barriers. It’s really what the best companies do.

Our four step framework is supported comprehensively by a set of research, tools and canvases. Follow this path and you should be adopting the best change practices for the 2020s.

Reason #13 — "SEE" - CHANGE IS A SIX-SCOPED ART & SCIENCE — we listen closely, look deep, spot signals, gaze high, scan wide & peer far.

Our SEE step looks in new places, fueling our ventures with questions & overcoming the anchoring biases holding companies back. It’s where our leaders dip inside and outside their four walls to observe new realities, assess where they are today and envision the seed paths of growth. INSIDE NOW leverages a north star purpose, portfolio health & change performance with a Future-Readiness Assessment AuditTM.. Leaders filter their collective future aspirations using our talent & cultural stethoscope and company & strategy microscope. INTEGRATED FORCES taps into an outside-in perspective, considering industry shifts, tech evolutions, future trends & customer needs to create a Portfolio Now/NextTM.  We use our tech gyroscope, customer kaleidoscope, cross-industry periscope & futures telescope to set our course with a Future State CompassTM & identify challenge statements for project teams to further explore.

Reason #14 — "LEARN" - BRIDGING ROOM A & ROOM B, imagining with ambition and informing with rigor.

Our second phase LEARN is where ideas diverge and converge, allowing the intuitive and data-based stewards of growth to work together and bridge organizational left and right brains (i.e. Room A and Room B). Project teams dig deeply into fields they need to master to fully understand how they might find product/market fit for their new concepts, and how they feasibly can design and develop products, services & business models that could possibly be brought to scale. IMAGINE NEXT liberates teams to explore by producing Futureproofing IdeaboardsTM that get triple-proofed through cross-industry, technology & business model explorations. INFORM NEXT asks teams to get disciplined by developing & tracking experiments and building & refining prototypes, guided by stakeholder needs, value metrics & Four Quadrant BuildoutsTM.  The result is a finalist set of iterated ventures that show promise across the portfolio.

Reason #15 — "DECIDE" - FUTUREPROOFING COVERS THE TOUGH CHOICES - time, attention & money are scarce, we kill darlings & fuel rockets.

Leaders have too many great ideas on the table, but have a tough time deciding where they should place their bets on early stage initiatives. Our third phase DECIDE solves this by first expanding a finalist set of ventures to give them the best chances of success before asking the tough questions and triaging the absolute best candidates for market entry. Our INSPIRATION step offers up one last sprint of expansion and optimization. It canvasses a wider set of experts on how to pull these ventures off through different partners, promising technology or alternative routes. IMPACT is the biggest reality check yet –  this step objectively prioritizes & categorizes pilot-ready ventures for the widest berth and best chances of success. The result is a proven suite of investment-ready ventures with associated milestones & go-to-market plans.

Reason #16 — "COMMIT" - FUTUREPROOFED FIRMS ARE ALL IN - solving the missings of commercialization, narrative, monitoring, culture, skills & scale.

We’ve have borrowed a saying – “the innovation chicken is involved, but the futureproofing pig is committed.” Our COMMIT step provides the necessary means to commercialize, scale and set up organizations for sustainable success. It’s the biggest current gap in innovation circles* and is one of the reasons why new ventures face organ resistance and rejection by their sponsoring companies. IMPLEMENT focuses on the key actions & accountabilities of launching innovation, transferring ownership to commercial teams and getting true alignment across the organization. IMMERSE focuses on the road ahead and how to engrain behaviours, reinforce future-ready organizational cultures, track the right OKRs and identify and mobilize the best bank of foresights and guilds for future portfolio renewal. We use breakthrough new canvases & tools like Future Sensors DashboardTM, Scale MonitorTM  and Culture ReinforcementTM here.

INNOVATION++ YOU CAN TAKE TO THE BANK (MESSAGES #17-21)

We marry the best of what works for real business needs.  By combining the most successful practices of:corporate & scale-up innovation,  Silicon Valley & incubator growth mindset, lean business model pivots. leading edge foresights  & transformations from the edges – we help our clients and NOW readers come out ahead.

REASON #17 — A #NEXT 30 CURATION++ - we have extracted the best of 30 schools of innovation & change and put THEM under one umbrella.

Futureproofing: Next is not a completely foreign argument to the world, We are a mashup of tools and ideas from a variety of strategy, change & innovation schools like agile, lean, business models, design thinking, backcasting, foresight planning – taking the wheat, and leaving the chaff behind that does not work very well in the corporate settings of the future. Why be so tribal and focus only on one or two change levers? Instead, Futureproofing ; Next taps into thirty parts of the future-savvy innovators’ universe visualized above. 

Reason #18 — PUTTING YOU IN A STATE OF PERPETUAL REFRESH - learn, unlearn, relearn - when you think you are certain is when you know you are wrong.

Learning is a core driver of future competitive advantage. Leaders need to put on the front burner and engineer “corporate mastery” and “perpetual refresh” into the heart of their companies. Too many people believe innovation efforts are deterministic, but really it relies on smart adaptable leaders coping & dealing with the knowable, unmanageable and unthinkable.We continue to learn, relearn and unlearn our craft to stay relevant. Data is helpful, but tireless observation & enquiry gets us to the magical places called foresight, futureproofing and growth. Visualized above  is our “bingo card” of continued areas of training and skill development.

Reason #19 — F:N REPRESENTS HOPE & OPTIMISM, the missing link to get companies to catch up, not give up.

We truly think companies can catch up, not just give up. With the right amount of inspiration, perspiration, insight and boldness, corporate innovators do not have to take a back seat to the glamour faces of startup land unicorns or the purse string holders of the incumbent C-suite. Futureproofing : Next can help bridge optimistic aspiration with reality. We believe every organization, team and person can become what they want to be with the right approach to opportunity. We believe the future can be a friendly place, but it does start by adopting a different aspirational and future mindset today.

Reason #20 — We can’t predict the future - but we need to proof against it & capitalize on it.

In the 2020s, predicting the future is a fool’s game. It’s the same reason why casinos make money, pollsters are often wrong and pundits rarely check their accuracy. The world is exponentially VUCA, it has been for awhile. Our marketplace is 4x faster than it was a generation ago. The environment that innovation operates in has accelerated past our ability to command-and-control plan for it.  Markets are being disrupted every day by quicksilver customer values & habit shifts and outside-of-industry threats, Even in the span of planning & writing this book, we have seen the effects of accelerated AI, a generation-defining pandemic and an altered future of work. We need an approach that doesn’t predict the future but proofs against it.  Certainty, stable progress, go-it-alone, kaizen and extrapolating the past, have been replaced by probability, speed, co-creation, bold ventures  and scenario planning the future. Let’s go.

Reason #21 — FUTUREPROOFING IS HABIT-FORMING - too much of innovation academiA treats it as an event, we treat it as a practice.

“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under the lights.” Muhammad Ali.

Innovation and change is a habit. Look at most innovation literature however and it treats their subject  matter with a distinct beginning and end. No way. We don’t say Finance’s job is over when they release their income statement and we don’t say HR’s job is over after they hire an employee. Why would innovation and change be any different?   Futureproofing : Next plays the long game and not only works within corporate venture efforts, but also focuses on the go-beyond 365 day per year company-wide efforts. Our mission in authoring this book was to make futureproofing a habit inside and across companies. That means focusing on the context that ventures launch into and the continuing day-to-day challenges, particularly there six ones visualized above. .

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