Edited by Laura Anna Costanzo and Robert Bradley MacKay
Chapter 3: Strategic Foresight
Ajit Nayak Introduction In a remarkably frank admission, Andy Grove the Intel chairman articulates the strategic challenges facing business leaders: None of us have a real understanding of where we are heading. I don’t. I have senses about it. But decisions don’t wait; investment decisions or personal decisions don’t wait for that picture to be clariﬁed. You have to make them when you have to make them . . . This is an intuitive process, because the numbers aren’t in and the evidence isn’t in . . . [One has to] grasp what cannot be spelled out and cannot be shown by data, to be in tune with . . . vague attributes . . . (Grove 2003, pp. 3–4) There is no doubt that very few in the computing industry are as well placed as Andy Grove to know what the future holds for the industry. Despite this we see that he is unable to forecast or predict how the industry will evolve. What Grove articulates is the increasing importance of strategic foresight in a world where forecasting the future is increasingly problematic. As Wack (1985) states: Forecasts are not always wrong; more often than not, they can be reasonably accurate. And that is what makes them so dangerous. They are usually constructed on the assumption that tomorrow’s world will be much like today’s. They often work because the world does not always change. But sooner or later forecasts will fail when they are most needed. (p. 73) Wack echoes Andy Grove’s predicament. Organizations have developed sophisticated routines and...
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