How to forecast future needs
On the 30th of January 2019, we had the pleasure to lead the workshop about how to forecast future customers’ needs and create foresights during the annual meeting of the Swiss Society of System Engineering (SSSE) in Zürich.
Our team, like the system engineers, are practitioners of system thinking: founders of Rokanan worked with Greg Yezersky, the creator of the General Theory of Innovation (GTI) for years and co-wrote a book explaining the principles of GTI; the Switzerland regional
manager is a certified GTI consultant too.
What systemic forecasting is
Today we can see on the market the rise of agile methods. While we appreciate how effectively they minimise the risk of product development; they do not cover all aspects. In Agile methods the source of ideas lies in empathising with existing customer needs. This does not provide advantage as all competitors can talk to a customer too. Systemic innovator can use system forecasting to anticipate future needs. This forecasting is based on the discoveries of the General Theory of Innovation that the evolution of products is not random. We can evolutionary paterns to creare future scenarios of the products, services, organisations or markets.
Figure 1 presents the major groups of Evolutionary Templates – the tools that are based on objective evolutionary patterns.
The exercise we did
We started with building a Value Map (AKA RelEvent Diagram) which visually represents how the service is used. After creating the Value Map we applied a few Evolutionary Templates. During the short exercise, we came up with some new features and interesting areas for service improvement. The Value Map and the ideas are on Figure 2 below.
Benefits of systemic forecasting
There are many, very powerful innovation methods and tools. Each of them has its strengths and weaknesses. In our opinion, the System Evolutionary Forecasting is the most reliable approach to foresighting and future needs discovery as it is based on the scientific foundations. The ideas we create during the process can be used for developing new features before customers realise the need. But if you take time to apply all templates you would obtain hundreds of ideas. If you analyse them, you identify patterns and trends so you can focus on the most promising areas. This is can be used for creating R&D programs, product strategies and generally to radically increase ROI from the company’s new product development process.
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