How 18 Companies Used Scenario Design to Future-Proof their Businesses
18 Danish companies participated in our innovation program Future Now. All participants emerged stronger and better prepared for a future that may be marked by uncertainty and new challenges
To thrive in the 21st century, businesses need the ability to navigate a complex and uncertain reality of interwoven risks and opportunities. Future Now was a design-driven business and strategy development program intended for Danish production companies interested in working proactively with the future.
The Results: “If we hadn’t participated in the program, we wouldn’t be here today”
Following our three-month Future Now course, the 18 participating companies have achieved a variety of results:
- New concepts for products, test results from prototypes, and implementation plans
- New – and greener – business models
- Ideas and plans regarding how to either rethink their cultural values or incorporate key learnings from Future Now into their next strategy
Despite the differences in results, all participants have emerged stronger and better prepared for a future that may be marked by uncertainty and new challenges.
“We have come up with a more proactive approach. Actually, we have some level of influence on how we can affect our customers in a way that actually benefits us and our business. If we hadn't participated in the Future Now program, we wouldn't be here today“
On a more general level, Future Now has also demonstrated, that we as businesses, as a society, and here at the DDC, need to focus on at least two things:
- We need to be able to bridge the far future and the immediate present. To think much further into the future and much faster in the present
- We need to be able to zoom in and out. To consider both our dreams for the vast, complex, and interconnected systems we are part of and the single action that might bring us a single small step closer to making them a reality
If we manage that, we might just stand at the cusp of something better.
What is Future Now?
Future Now was a design-driven business and strategy development program intended for Danish production companies interested in working proactively with the future. The program bridged long-term and systemic thinking with the rapid and iterative ways of working and included content spanning from speculative future scenarios, to prototyping, to design-driven leadership practices.
"This process has been scary, as we came to realize what we should be good at and what we should look like if we wish to hold a position in the future. It has been a real eye-opener to us"
The Approach: Working in the year 2050
We used a particular combination of design methods to help the participating companies reach their goals:
- A set of uniquely developed future scenarios for the year 2050 (you can check out the scenarios here)
- Design tools like prototyping and ecosystem mapping
- The Confederation of Danish Industry’s tools, which help companies map their existing and coming contribution to the SDGs
- Mentors (see who they were below)
Depending on the SME, specific design tools were tailored to the independent companies’ needs.
"We have learned to activate some really good models and toolboxes for our future business development"
CSR AND MARKETING MANAGER, RE-BAG
The Challenge: How do we prepare for the unknown?
A fundamental question we wanted to explore and solve through this project was: What can we do to prepare our businesses for a future of uncertainty? And can we make them more sustainable in the process?
When a crisis like COVID-19 hits, it becomes apparent how uncertain the future is. Danish companies have to be extremely adaptable. Currently, production companies are facing more than just a pandemic — they are facing societies, markets, and customers that demand action on immense planetary and societal challenges. Whether they want to or not, this might force them to rethink not only their products and services but their entire business- and operating models as well. How can companies proactively engage with the challenges of the future and identify its inherent opportunities?
A three-month program looked like this:
At our first meeting, we discuss the desired outcome of the program.
Match with mentor
You get a mentor that matches the challenge you’re facing. They’ll follow your process from start to finish.
Bootcamp 1: Future laboratory
You explore how to navigate four radically different future scenarios for your production in 2050. From here, you’ll investigate the opportunity spaces for your business, map new business opportunities and take the first steps towards change.
One-on-one: Mentor time and homework
You develop the first draft of your new strategy/business model. Your mentor assists you.
Bootcamp 2: Value proposition and prototyping
You continue the work on your new strategy/business model using prototypes to test your ideas.
One-on-One: Mentor time and homework
You continue on prototypes and start to test your ideas. Your mentor is there to help you smooth out any bumps on the road.
Bootcamp 3: Plan, implementation, and scenario perspectives
You revisit the scenarios and validate the new strategy/business model.
You adjust and finalize your business model and get ready to implement, strengthened, and prepared for the future.
Program duration: 10-12 weeks
All participating companies got their own expert mentor with a background in design, sustainability, digitalization, or production. They were instrumental in helping the companies take the input, methods, and tools from the boot camps and anchor them in their daily work.
The mentors were:
- Line Poulsen, Chief Consultant at The Confederation of Danish Industry
- Vanessa Carpenter, Founder & Design researcher at Kintsugi Design
- Jakob Voldum, Director Insight & Strategy at Designit
- Morten Wagner, Head of Department, IdemoLab at FORCE Technology
If you want to know more about what the companies learned from the process, join our webinar on March 31. You get hands-on advice and tools on how to future-proof your business. Read more and sign up here.
A Case Collection
In this case collection, you meet four of the 18 companies that participated in Future Now during 2021. As the companies span different disciplines, the collection of cases contains learning and perspectives from a wide range of industries, such as manufacturing, building, food production, and sustainable packaging.
You meet the following companies: Glaspartner ApS, Orana ApS, Re-bag ApS, and Mouritsen ApS.
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