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René Rohrbeck

Maturity Levels of Horizon Scanning: Assessing Organizational Future Orientation

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Horizon scanning has been discussed as a means for early identification of threats and opportunities. Its interest is based on the finding that even large successful organisations can find themselves in life-threatening situations if faced by discon- tinuous change in their environment (Drucker, 1969; Stubbart & Knight, 2006). One example is Kodak, which when faced with a technological disruption (digital photography), was only able to escape bankruptcy by cutting four-fifths of its workforce and investing $5 billion in 10 years on R&D to catch up with new mar- ket entrants (Deutsch, 2008; Lucas & Goh, 2009). One study solicited by the Royal Dutch/Shell company calculated the average life expectancy of a Fortune 500 company to be less than 40 years (de Geus, 1997), emphasising that even large companies can easily find themselves subject to takeovers or bankruptcy.
Under the terms “horizon scanning”, “foresight” or “peripheral vision” research has been conducted to identify successful means to detect and anticipate discontinu- ous or radical change. Such research has produced generic processes (Ashton et al., 1996; Reger, 2001), a large set of methods for interpretation of weak sig- nals and emerging issues (Gordon & Glenn, 2003; Porter et al., 2004) and multiple examples of how horizon scanning systems have been implemented in companies (Rohrbeck & Thom, 2008; Van der Heijden, 2005; Wack, 1985) and by govern- ment agencies (Blind et al., 1999; Durand, 2003; Martin, 1995).
In this article I argue that in order to be able to truly help organisations to become more future oriented we need to change our perspective.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDecisions in a Complex World – Building Foresight Capabilities
EditorsA. Low
Place of publicationSingapore
Publication year14 Mar 2010
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes

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