But crucially, we also need to map these in tandem with, rather than separate from, Horizons One and Two workflows and new product development (NPD) activities. Why? Again, as Mills suggests, innovation with tangible product lines at the end of it, such as flatscreen tvs, laptops and iPhones, seem to follow 20-year innovation cycles – Horizon Three timelines in other words – with the wins and successes from three or more industries metamorphosing into one towards the end of this cycle when a noted innovator spots it. An example is Steve Jobs designing the iPhone based on his understanding, monitoring and mapping of advances in integrated circuitry, pocket-sized tv screens and the lithium-ion battery.
More tellingly, as Mills reveals in his book, those BIG, once-in-a-generation game-changers – the internet, quantum, AI, CRISPR, crypto, VR – take about 60 years to mature – Horizon 7 anybody? – which is well beyond the tenure of our average C-suite executive (4.9 years), CEO (6.9 years) or general leadership team member for that matter, 50–70% of which fail within 18 months of being appointed to their job anyway.
Innovation, then – for that read horizon-scanning, mapping, assessing and evaluating – needs to be re-assessed in terms of how we incorporate it into our organisational framework, as well as who should oversee it, and why it needs to be done – for short-term knee-jerkism-gotta-do-something-on-my-watch decision-making or for those three Ls I mentioned at the beginning.
The latter of course! But, as I said, by whom, how and why? Let’s look at that in my next blog post.
Martin Raymond is co-founder of The Future Laboratory and a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts. You can join his Strategic Networking Masterclass, and his best-selling Trends and Foresight Masterclasses. Further details about our in-person Trend Briefing 2023 at the Royal Academy of Arts can be found here.
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