Innovation: Design the future

Lee Shupp and Adam Salter, with Don Abraham
The Futures Company

Successful innovation requires a refocus from customer insight to foresight, which can unveil new opportunity spaces for development.

Wayne Gretzky, arguably the best hockey player to ever play the game, famously said: "A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be." Many innovation efforts play where the puck is, focusing on understanding the present. We're going to make the argument here that focusing on the future is the way to play where the puck is going to be.

Innovation is hard, and it's getting harder. We live in a world of accelerating change, growing complexity, and increasing competition, making innovation more challenging than ever before. What can you do to increase your chances of success? We believe that an essential element is often absent from the innovation process: a focus on the future. Getting ideas to market typically takes several years of development, depending on the category. Too often we design products and services of the future for consumers of the present. If you design with the future in mind, you increase your chances of success. There are three benefits that come with focusing on the future: you can uncover risks and threats that you weren't aware of, you can discover opportunity spaces for innovation, and you can develop robust strategy that works across likely alternative futures.