When thinking about the future, our job as strategists is not one of prediction, but rather, projection — using the tools of our imagination and the depth of our research to speculate about what could be rather than what will be. This helps us think strategically in ways that make us active shapers of a future world that we want to inhabit.
An international aviation authority partnered with Gensler to conduct a Futures Thinking exercise to address key questions to inform its strategic planning: What are the macro forces at play? How might these forces disrupt our business? And finally, what can we do now to plan for these potential scenarios – to literally “future-proof” their aviation business?
To do this, our Strategy team first identified the megatrends shaping the future of the aviation industry and considered how they each affected the organization’s current business challenges. The megatrends and business challenges were further explored and vetted to ensure we were effectively framing the problems we believe need to be solved.
Based on insights derived from research and discussion of the megatrends, four future scenarios were developed to explore speculative yet plausible future worlds where the megatrends have led to either dystopian or “protopian” outcomes (a state where things are headed in a positive direction, but fall short of being utopian). These four worlds, all taking place in the year 2035, were used as provocations for discussion during an annual strategic planning offsite held by the organization’s Board of Directors, to aid in the exploration of possible business impacts and help inform and guide strategic decisions.
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