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Strategic Foresight and Innovation for Associations

When an association is facing inevitable change but
does not have a solid approach, a strategic
foresight and innovation initiative can make all the difference. 
Based on my experience in many associations, these are the core
components:

1. The volunteer leadership
including the Board of Directors, especially the Executive Committee,
take
on the mandate of innovation. Their position is one of strategic
guidance, endorsement,
and identifying the subject matter experts who can target key areas.
They also produce
some kind of documentation that articulates the need and guides the
strategy.

2. The senior leadership team inside
the organization works together to develop a strategic
foresight process the team can and will commit to, which provides rigor
and relevance,
expansion and amplification of the organization�s impact on its
members. This process
will identify:
� Challenges and risks along with the groundwork and effort required to
address them
� Radical innovations and ideas
� Opportunities and markets that do not yet exist
� New products and services far enough in advance that they can be
successfully
developed and matured to meet new market opportunities
� Outcomes consistent with the organization�s core aspirations

3. Internal staff participate
in building a culture of innovation:
� An environmental scan � identifying emerging trends, futuristic
breakthroughs, trend
analysis 
� Incremental innovation � locating and developing better business
processes,
extending current operations so it can be better bigger, faster, more
responsive and
opportunistic without compromising strategy
� Improving collaboration to find synergies across member and
stakeholder groups 

Measures of
Success
 
1. The generation of new, innovative capacity and enhanced revenues.
2. Key volunteers, the senior leadership team, and staff members are
inspired and engaged,
thinking together about the future and the organization�s capacity to
influence and generate
improved and innovative products and services, including the building
of partnerships that
improve mission impact while enhancing profitable revenue.
3. A framework including processes and timeline is established for a
collective effort to (a)
build strategic foresight capability and (b) identify and pursue
incremental innovations, as
well as medium to long-term innovation.

Value
The organization creates a process for a reciprocal influence between
innovation and strategy;
that is, a generative way of thinking about the future that bestows a
new capacity on the
organization: strategic foresight, which leads to �getting ahead of the
curve� in their mission
impact. It provides a formal process for scanning the environment,
identifying and analyzing
relevant trends for risk and opportunity, and strategically influencing
the future.



Innovation distingquishes between a leader
and a follower.


Steve Jobs