How Future Thinking Can Derail Your Company’s Present

The macrotrends reshaping society demand strategic reinvention from businesses, but leaders must not lose sight of their current reality.

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Everyone wants to be future-ready, especially in uncertain times. Inflation has hit its highest level since the early 1980s. Many technology stocks have plunged dramatically from the beginning of the year. And the pandemic has pressed into its third year, with recent lockdowns in China deepening the supply chain crisis.

Despite the volatility, the future is still arriving at an accelerating pace. Climate change, quantum computing, Web3, AI and machine learning, and the metaverse are just a few examples of the deep trends that are reshaping the ways companies innovate and compete.

These important trends offer opportunities to dream even bigger — but dreaming big does not mean escaping reality. Companies cannot afford to lose sight of their core customers and the present economic environment. Here are four common mistakes that can derail leaders as they strategize for the future.

Derailer 1: Hoping to Run Before You Can Walk

It’s easy to think that because others are doing it, you can do it too. Take the metaverse as an example. It’s becoming shorthand for describing the future of the immersive internet, where a new digital economy lives across both virtual (digital) and augmented (digital and physical) reality. Platforms like Roblox, Decentraland, and The Sandbox are all distinct metaverse platforms. Technologies that can transition between the digital and physical worlds are already emerging. For example, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) allow users to transfer digital clothing, artwork, or other purchases from one digital realm to another.

For a consumer product manufacturer, therefore, the prospect of selling virtual experiences is very real. Nike, for one, has doubled down on NFTs. It has acquired RTFKT, which creates, sells, and stores digital goods. On the online gaming platform Roblox, a virtual Gucci bag now fetches more than its real-life equivalent. Dolce & Gabbana has auctioned a $300,000 tiara that can be worn only in the metaverse. But the question executives must ask themselves is this: Are these eye-catching examples of NFT sales scalable or one-offs? How can an organization turn the emerging opportunity into a sustainable shift in business models?

Capitalizing on a new trend always takes preparation. It materializes via incremental evolution. That’s why what’s suitable for Facebook, Nike, or Microsoft might not be suitable for others.

More than 15 years ago, Nike created the Nike+iPod Sport Kit.


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Comment (1)
S Kulwal
Insightful, relevant, and incredible article. Specific examples from corporate world make it not only an interesting read, but more importantly, provide actionable leads for positively impacting sustainable results.
S Kulwal