Foresight at Fiskars Group
Futures are a part of everything we do
May 10, 2019, Annika Sipilä
Satu Kalliokulju, Head of Consumer Excellence at Fiskars Group, talked about consumer futures at Fiskars. The company was founded in 1649, making it the oldest company in Finland. Their strategy is to build a family of iconic lifestyle brands – the most famous example being the orange-handled scissors.
Futures work is done to facilitate conversation and decision-making while aiming to create common ground to build on top of. Kalliokulju said Fiskars utilizes three main planning horizons, with the futures work being different in each of the three.
The immediate horizon, one to three years, deals with execution-related matters, such as consumer engagement, or marketing communications or offering planning.
The next horizon, four to six years, is about evolution-related matters, such as value propositions, offering portfolio, and opportunities within the current business. “The key question in this horizon is: where should business X be developing in the next four to six years?”
The third horizon, approximately seven to ten years, focuses on disruption and renewal. It is about brand and portfolio development and new opportunities outside current businesses. In this time frame, Fiskars deals with the disruption of their business and tries to ensure that they develop something that will renew the current business in a sustainable manner. “Several parallel planning horizons of different lengths are necessary for our brands,” Kalliokulju said, “We do this to ensure that we have at least another 400 years ahead of us.”
Signals, trends and megatrends interact in a common trends framework
After presenting the time horizons Kalliokulju moves on to the practical part: Fiskars uses a common trend framework to make sense of signals and trends and to link them to foresight deliverables. Trends framework is composed of signals, trends and megatrends that interact with each other. The framework is used to figure out the implications to the organization and the three main deliverables are creating group-level scenarios, opportunity platforms for the businesses, and producing an annual group megatrends publication. “Futures work is deeply ingrained into both business unit and group-level strategy work and the management gets involved too and debates with us,” Kalliokulju told us.
The signals are examples of current behaviour or existing solutions. These signals are then grouped into the design, technology, and consumer phenomena which are considered important to Fiskars. These might be trends regarding design materials or colours, or technology solutions driving change or phenomena affecting consumer behaviour. These trends are then linked to global business-agnostic phenomena or megatrends, as they are often called.
Kalliokulju gave an example of how the trends framework involves an interaction among the different levels: “The rise of food delivery services is a signal of current behaviour changes. One of the consumer trends relevant to it might be that home cooking among certain consumer segments is diminishing. This could be linked to the megatrend of urbanization.” She reminded that signals and trends can be interpreted in several ways and should be done from the organization’s point of view.
Kalliokulju emphasized the significance of the interaction between the signals and trends: “All of the levels are in dialogue with each other. It is important to think about what makes the trend possible. What creates a situation where and the timing when the signals and trends gain momentum?”
The deliverables are used for facilitating decision-making and to create common ground
Fiskars uses the trends framework to facilitate conversation and decision-making and to create common ground within the organization. “The common ground is tremendously important. It is needed for building share thinking and direction,” Kalliokulju highlighted.
The main deliverables are group-level scenarios, opportunity platforms for businesses, and an annual group megatrends publication.
One tool to facilitate decision-making and conversation in the organization are group-level scenarios. “It is essential for any business to re-calibrate its thinking and assumptions by doing a scenario work and to understand what the big discontinuities are and how they will affect our business in the future – you have a choice: either you challenge yourself or someone else will do it for you” Kalliokulju explained.
Scenarios are an important way to create common ground, as it shows that phenomena and signals can be interpreted in multiple ways: “Trends and phenomena have relevance in all the scenarios, they just play out differently in different futures.”
Another deliverable of futures work is the annual trend source library. The source library describes in a detailed manner what implications of trends might have. “We have developed a digital version that’s available for everyone within the company. The purpose of the annual trends is to have a set of stories to be used as inspiration and to put idea creation in context,” Kalliokulju said.
However, the most tangible way of utilizing the trends are the identified business opportunities for different businesses. At Fiskars, they are called opportunity platforms and the purpose is to identify opportunities to create new offerings. The opportunity platforms are often composed of consolidated patterns of consumption or behaviour that come together from multiple trends. “We never innovate or ideate based on one individual phenomenon or trend but rather based on multiple that form an interesting cluster,” Kalliokulju said.
Futures work at Fiskars approaches trends and phenomena as fuel to future business opportunities. “We do not believe in responding to market needs. Just answering to market needs would mean to be at least 5 years too late. For us, it’s completely on the wrong track. All of this is done with the purpose of creating unique value for our customers and consumers.”
Fiskars Group is a user of Futures Platform's software. This article is based on content presented at the Strategic Foresight Summit 2018, organized by Futures Platform.
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