Lani Bannach, the Chair of the Diversity and Innovation Network at the Chamber, welcomed the participants to the event and introduced the first presentation, as follows:

The topic for today is Foresight.

There is an old saying:  “You can predict anything, but the future”.  Businesses are operating in dynamic complexity and the speed with which decisions need to be made is fast and furious.

Therefore leading on from last event, when we were inspired by Dr. Hancock to make the distinction between complex and complicated problems, we now take a closer look at ways that can assist in ways of picking up trends, – some call it peripheral vision – scanning the horizon.”

Then Lani introduced Neil Botten, please see the text box for further details.

Neil positioned the need for foresight as a very important part of the strategy process by going through a number of famous but wrongful predictions.  He went on to discuss the need for business leaders to not only monitor competitors and changes in technology and customer needs, but to ensure that the organisation, whether global or local, is prepared and adaptable in order to take advantage of such changes.

Lack of corporate preparation can have severe consequences and can ultimately lead to closure.

However, Neil Botten also offered advice on how to tackle the process of staying prepared and flexible in order to be able to respond swiftly to change:

Adopt scenario planning, also known as a process of foresight.  Not entirely a science, but a disciplined art!

The scenarios (plural – not just one) will vary and depend upon industry.   The foresight-process is a creative process and should not be exclusive to management.  The output includes scenarios ranging from preposterous, possible, plausible, probable and preferable.

Neil Botten conveyed his huge insight and vast experience in an entertaining and thought-provoking manner giving the attendees not only food for thought and useful tools, but also made them smile.


About Neil Botten,

Neil was the Principal Lecturer in Strategic Management at Westminster Business School, University of Westminster.

Prior to his recent retirement from academe, he was Director of the Strategic Change Research Group and Deputy Head of Marketing and Business Strategy. Whilst with WBS he was Director of MBA programmes with responsibility for over 180 participants per annum all of whom were practicing managers and senior professionals from a wide variety of backgrounds and organisations. His most recent teaching involves Strategic Management, Managing Change and Foresight & Futures for each of which he was module leader. He has supervised more than 250 work based MBA projects in these topic areas.