Up Periscope – keeping an eye on the horizon #strategy

Up Periscope – keeping an eye on the third horizon

When formulating strategy it is behoven upon the leadership to look beyond the the immediate future and even the medium term and look to the “third horizon” for inspiration on what the future for the organisation might look like.

Merhad Baghai et al termed the three horizon model where the first horizon represents here and now, the second horizon the things we are developing to bring to market in the foreseeable future and the third horizon those innovative ideas that could become products and services one day.

Like a submarine commander a good leader has the periscope up, looking far into the distance for risks and changes in the environment.  The good leader is interpreting the signals that she sees, estimating risks and determining a course.

Imagine if the leaders at Nokia had seen the emergence of the smartphone, or Kodak recognising that digital imaging was the future.  How different would those companies look now?

Good leaders know there is a digital tsunami that is impacting every sector, good leaders see it as an opportunity not a threat.  Good leaders are positioning their organisation to benefit from the new order, not to be eaten by it.

Good leaders will be looking at every aspect of their ecosystem, using a PESTLE model or equivalent to ensure they are looking under every rock. And paddling to catch the tsunami wave.

Remember the future is coming whether you are ready for it or not. It is not locked in to your planning timelines and it certainly doesn’t care what you have done in the past!

So get that periscope up, take a note of what you are seeing and hearing  and get your team together and discuss the implications and the opportunities.  Planning is no longer a 3 to 5 year cyclic activity, it is something that should be on your mind every day.

The future is coming, ready or not ……………

  1. #1 by Amanda Toms on October 20, 2013 - 11:49 pm

    Great piece! A great reminder in times of fiscal constraint and increasing work loads. It is too easy to just keep “doing the do” and forget to “Up Periscope”. I am going to steal this for a presentation I have to do. Thanks 🙂

    • #2 by groupstrategy on October 21, 2013 - 3:59 am

      Absolutely, it is what Steve Covey calls the whirlwind of daily work, you never get time to stop and have a look at what is coming! So we need something that allows that daily whirlwind to be disrupted. When you find the secret to that question let me know.

  2. #3 by Michael Taylor on October 21, 2013 - 3:25 am

    Thanks Derek, a thought provoking article. The concept of looking to the Third Horizon is difficult in Australia when the tenures of many company managers dont extend into the Second Horizon.
    Your article demonstrates the importance of capturing the ideas for the future and revisiting them regularly – because when key people leave, they take their future with them.

  3. #4 by Michael Taylor on October 23, 2013 - 12:06 am

    Developing Third Horizon thinking is described in this month’s HBR (Oct/13) -“Special Forces” Innovation: How DARPA Attacks Problems. Third Horizon thinking generates hundreds of billions of dollars for the US economy every year. Innovations include; carbon fibre, the internet and GPS. http://hbr.org/2013/10/special-forces-innovation-how-darpa-attacks-problems/ar/1

    • #5 by groupstrategy on October 23, 2013 - 12:18 am

      Clever guys and gals over there, thanks for the link.

      Regards Derek 0417 662 274

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: