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Using future thinking to enhance strategy and innovation

23 Aug 2019

An APO workshop explored advanced strategic management tools to drive innovation and future thinking.

Strategy is an essential element for any organization that wants to make its way in the world and operate successfully over the long term. To achieve sustained productivity, especially in an uncertain, complex world, organizations must know how to change and evolve. Strategic thinking and management allow an organization to think systematically about long-term goals. However, conventional strategic management suffers from two limitations: 1) it relies on a limited view of the future; and 2) it often fails to generate real innovation and creativity. However, there are advanced strategic management tools such as scenario planning and horizon scanning that can address these limitations and enhance long-term planning.

To share useful practices in strategic management with both the public and private sectors, the Asian Productivity Organization (APO), in cooperation with the National Training and Productivity Centre of Fiji (NTPC) and Fiji National University, organized a workshop on Advanced Strategic Management for Enhancing Productivity. It was held 12–16 August 2019 in Nadi with 24 participants from 14 APO member countries.

In opening the workshop, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Employment, Productivity, and Industrial Relations Osea Cawaru pointed out that: “If we are to improve our quality of life, each one of us, every worker, business, industry, and government unit, must be committed to the same common goal.” It was noted that earlier this year, the APO had assisted in drafting Fiji’s first National Productivity Master Plan. Director of the NTPC Dr. Isimeli Tagicakiverata added that, “It’s a great honor for Fiji to host such a senior, distinguished, talented group of people from different parts of the world… and to share ideas and find new, more effective techniques in strategic management that will help us enhance productivity.”

The workshop was guided by two international resource persons who acted as facilitators: Professor Naohiro Shichijo, from the Tokyo University of Technology in Japan; and Strategic Futurist and Value System Specialist Marcus Barber, from the Centre for Australian Foresight. A range of topics was covered including the role of foresight and scenario planning in policymaking, horizon scanning, scenario building, organizational assessment, developing capability-readiness for innovation, scaling up innovation within government departments, and using the “killing trends” approach for targeted innovation.

All involved in the workshop commented on the active engagement of participants and enthusiasm during discussions and group activities. Participants are expected to follow up on their learning by disseminating the new knowledge and skills acquired in their home countries and organizations and by applying those skills in real-life situations.

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