The velocity of innovation is controlled, not urgent. It’s a current obsession to worry about the speed of innovation and the changes needed to keep up with demand and outrun competition.

It’s odd because there is no real sense of speed. Change can have a surreal pace and its impact on us is often gradual. Sitting at your desk, the change you are working on is probably planned for some point in the future. Maybe a week away, or a month, or a year. But not tomorrow.

Have a think about yesterday. There’s every chance that not so much is different today. But think about how things look since last year: the new car, the house move, the graduation, the job change, the new partner.

Most of these events weren’t sudden. Things happen over time. Some planned for, some forecast and some unexpected, but still not sudden. Some had a radical effect on you. Some just slid into your life.

Innovation has a similar velocity. It isn’t urgent: it’s a controlled process of thoughtful decision-making that has long-term impact. The effect of being innovative is that you can significantly alter the business path for years to come. Switching direction may actually be course correction if you see a threat to your plan, but generally, innovation isn’t a concept that has immediate impact on what we do.

So why do we worry? Why do we react to every news headline that flags AI as a problem for our way of life? Why do meetings become heated when we discuss the future? Planning for the future is usually when we are at our most considered.

Except for one problem: we struggle to know how much to believe. Now is when we know the least about the future. Now, we must draw conclusions about the people that will use our products and services and our competition. And the nature of market research is that it will tell us what we ask through the lens of what we do now.

Planning for a future that has no absolute specification needs a different attitude. Read the signs. Build possible scenarios. Test the products we think will work and decide which way to go. Then review, review, review.

This is the method that we bring to future thinking. Future-proofing your business takes steady effort, energy and tenacity. It takes ambition and imagination. It doesn’t need reaction and urgency. Take your time and get it right.

Future thinking. Future proofing. It’s what we do.

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