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Chapter 1: Redefining Strategic Foresight: ‘Fast’ and ‘Far’ Sight via Complexity Science
1 Redeﬁning strategic foresight: ‘fast’ and ‘far’ sight via complexity science Bill McKelvey and Max Boisot Introduction The only thing that gives an organization a competitive edge – the only thing that is sustainable – is what it knows, how it uses what it knows, and how fast it can know something new! (Prusak, 1996, p. 6) It is important to set the competitive circumstances within which we study processes leading to strategic foresight. Good strategy is no longer just picking the right industry; it is being at the right place in the industry – at the cutting edge of industry evolution – new technology, new markets, new moves by competitors. For ﬁrms in high-velocity environments (Eisenhardt, 1989), emphasis needs to shift from the competitive dynamics of industry selection and interﬁrm competition to intraﬁrm rates of change (McKelvey, 1997). As high-velocity product life cycles and hypercompetition have increased (D’Aveni, 1994), speed of knowledge appreciation has become a central attribute of competitive advantage (Leonard-Barton, 1995), as has organizational learning (Barney, 1991; Argote, 1999). Seeing industry trends (Hamel and Prahalad, 1994) and staying ahead of value migration (Slywotsky, 1996) are also valued. Porter (1996) emphasizes staying ahead of the eﬃciency curve. Dynamic ill-structured environments and learning opportunities become the basis of competitive advantage if ﬁrms can be early in their industry to unravel the evolving conditions (Stacey, 1995). Much of the concern about human capital appreciation bears on high-technologybased industries (Leonard-Barton, 1995). Eisenhardt and colleagues have focused on ‘high-velocity’ high-tech ﬁrms for...
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