Design your business for ‘tomorrow’s customers’


BUSINESSES are facing tough times, with EU trade difficulties and inflation driving pessimism.

So, now’s the time to reimagine things using creativity and invention, while remaining open-minded. Futurestate design can overcome commercial challenges — or build on a successful position — in business transformation, digital strategy, and service reinvention programmes.

Building a vision of an organisation’s future state is key. This involves breaking away from how things are done today and imagining tomorrow’s customers. This can be difficult, and many organisations end up with another iteration of regular business.

Ask what a new company could offer future customers, and a whole series of opportunities usually emerges.

Think about how future customers might behave, and how new services to serve them.

Empowering teams to think without constraints enables them to imagine what a radical alternative to today’s world might be.

Leaders could focus on five tools:

  1. Look for sparks

Look for anomalies or oddities; the things that are out-of-the-ordinary. Go back to previous research and look for the single dot that sits outside the norm. Look for single insights that new ideas can be built on, because the fact that it’s an outlier means it’s probably overlooked by competitors.

  1. Think laterally, not logically

Break away from assumptions and encourage lateral thinking. Ask leaders to ask how they might replace themselves, or how they would create a new service that would make their business irrelevant.

  1. Look at adjacent influences

Look beyond the normal domain to things that may be relevant to future customers — anyone or anything that might have an influence. Research technologies that are gaining traction. Look at how other services are changing, how customers behave.

  1. Talk to “tomorrow people”

Talk to potential future customers, people who could represent their future marketplace. You might uncover some behavioural traits or issues that could impact the future business.

  1. Invent new behaviours

Futurestate design is rarely about solving a problem, it’s about opportunity. Anticipate what could become appealing if people behaved or believed differently, then invent something to capitalise on it.

The process is built on creativity, sparks of insight, and invention. Leaders won’t find the future in traditional operational tools, which can inhibit the futurestate design process.

The goal is to build new behaviours, leaps of innovation. If leaders can get into the correct mindset, futurestate design can unlock a transformative vision.

Mark Wilson is CEO at Wilson Fletcher.