New Opportunities

Almost all businesses, large and small, must be prepared to seize new opportunities. This may

mean that they have to consider the impact of technological change on the business or how

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technology can offer them new business opportunities. The technology of stereo lithography, a

process by which three-dimensional objects are built layer by layer, has been available for more

than a decade. Bespoke Innovations saw the potential for using this technology. Bespoke

Innovations can develop, in a short period of time, custom artificial legs for a price of $5,000–

$6,000 and with features that are not found in $60,000 prostheses. [10]

Scenario planning should be a periodic exercise, but it should be conducted no more than once a

year. The actual frequency might be dependent on the perceived rate of change for the industry

or the presence of storm clouds on the horizon. Scenario planning has several distinct activities,

which may be as follows:

• Pick one area that might occur in the future that would have significant impact on the

business. What if the national joblessness rate remains at over 9 percent for the next three to five years?

What if a major customer decides to buy from a competitor or that customer is in financial trouble? What

if there are changes in the national defense budget? A luncheonette in New London, Connecticut, where

Electric Boat builds nuclear submarines, wants to consider the impact of changes in the defense budget. A

decrease in the budget for building nuclear submarines would reduce the number of subs made in New

London, which might lead to layoffs at Electric Boat and fewer customers for the luncheonette.

• Identify factors that might impact that issue. This sometimes is referred to as a PEST analysis,

where the P stands for political issues, E stands for economic issues, S stands for sociocultural issues, and

T stands for technology issues. Each factor would be analyzed to see how it might impact the scenario. In

our previous luncheonette example, the restaurant might want to consider an upcoming election to see

how each party would support defense appropriations, and it might look at the overall economy to

determine whether a downturn in the economy might lead to a cut in defense appropriations. It is unlikely

that sociocultural issues would impact defense appropriations. Technology issues, whether a

breakthrough in some design by the United States or by some other country, might determine the number

and location of submarines built in the United States.

• Rank the relative importance of the previous factors. Not all factors under consideration can be

considered equally important. It is critical in a scenario planning exercise to see which factors are most

important so that decision makers can focus on the ramifications of those factors in the analysis.

• Develop scenarios. Having identified the relative importance of the factors, the next stage would be to

develop a limited number of possible scenarios (no more than two or three). Each scenario would map out

possible outcomes for each key factor. Based on these values, the group conducting the scenario planning

exercise would develop insights into this possible future world.


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