How to think about future trends
The world and our society are changing faster and faster: products are being launched on the market and revised at even shorter intervals. Companies should always be agile. All this demands a completely new mindset by employees. Workshops can serve to develop exactly this mindset and to be open for new trends and technologies. In this article, I would like to describe a method, that can help to open the mindset of employees and inspire them to evolve new visionary things.
In an agile company, workshops are frequently used to develop new ideas as quickly as possible. If colleagues from different areas of the company are actively involved, problems can often be solved much better in a workshop. A heterogeneous participant landscape ensures that many different views and opinions can be captured. Visionary workshops and sprints focus on the development of future business solutions based on visions. But how can you encourage your workshop participants to think visionary? Everyone is different and thinks differently. And not everyone is immediately infected by new ideas, let alone is familiar with all the technological possibilities, that are available today and make new trends possible. This is exactly where the German Future Institute’s Megatrend-Map offers great opportunities.
Every (new) technology, method or social change has the disruptive potential to trigger new, replace old or change existing trends. Megatrends are highly likely to influence the long-term development of the economy and society and are therefore an elementary driver of change. This change always affects existing companies and their processes: Trends can offer new opportunities for business model innovation, but they also hold the danger of questioning and even destroying existing business models. The trend towards shared mobility, for example, is increasingly competing with established public transport companies in cities. The New Work trend is inspiring an entire generation to question traditional ways of working. The usual nine to five jobs in a static office are becoming less attractive. How can you keep track of all these trends? This is exactly where the Megatrend-Map comes into play. The Future Institute regularly illustrates megatrends on a clear map. This simple visual representation makes it possible to reduce complexity and make it more tangible. The speciality about it is that the relationships between individual trends are also depicted, and parallels and intersections are visible via networking. This enables a better understanding of the relationships and the viewer develops a 360-degree view for future planning. The Megatrend-Map is a tool that offers a grid for different future questions.
- Download German Version of the Megatrend-Map
- Download English Version of the Megatrend-Map
(translated by myself because the original one is just available in german)
Our society moves so fast, that it is almost impossible for the individual to know all developments. If you are planning a workshop, in which new ideas on a topic are to be developed, a session with the Megatrend-Map is a good support. Why is that? The employees get into conversation and get to know new things. Never before has anyone been to the workshop, who knew all the trends and immediately grasped, what all the points held in detail. The aim of a megatrend session is to open people’s minds and broaden their perspective. In everyday professional life, you become too comfortable to constantly question processes and try out new things — very few people do this continuously.
Prepare and conduct workshop
A session with the megatrend map can be very different in length depending on the level of detail required from the participants. As a rule, 60 to 100 minutes can be scheduled, if you are planning to implement the megatrend. How to prepare the workshop:
- Plot a megatrend map in multiple versions at least in A0 size.
- Stick maps onto the wall with sufficient distance to each other.
- Form groups of 4–6 people each
- Each group receives 5 coloured adhesive dots and defines the most relevant trends together (e.g. the trends with the greatest impact on the company or a defined topic).
- 45min should be scheduled so that the groups have enough time to discuss together.
- Each group presents the results and justifies the decisions made.
- Subsequently, the results are summarized and the most important trends are recorded separately.
This forms a basis for further discussions and tasks.
Small tip: As a moderator, you should have dealt with all trends in advance in order to be able to help with specific questions. For this purpose, a toolbox is offered, which deals with the individual trends in great detail.
Goals and results of a Megatrend-Map Session
As you can see, the preparation and execution is very easy and fast. Despite the simplicity of use, the results achieved are very important:
- Employees broaden their view and get to know new trends.
- One automatically and instinctively starts to think about the influence of a trend on one’s own company or process.
- You subconsciously classify yourself in individual topics and critically question your own position — the basic framework for future developments and visions.
- New ideas are conceived within the framework of certain trends.
Building workshop sessions can then take a deeper look at the most important trends. The following methods are suitable for this:
- Development of Use Cases within the framework of Value Proposition Design
- Business Model Canvas
- Stakeholder analyses
This strategy leads from a superordinate development of visions to concrete product ideas. The flight altitude is continuously reduced until the concrete business process is worked on and rethought at the end.
Generating new innovations for the company
As you can see, a Megatrend-Map session within a workshop is very well suited to open the thinking of the participants. This comparatively simple introduction to the topic provides a good basis for dealing with concrete product development in the further course. The degree of depth depends on the goal of the workshop. Such a megatrend session can also stand alone, if you are looking for a method to make the complexity of the economic and social trends more accessible to the participants in a very simple way.
I would be interested to hear your experience with such workshops.