How do companies prepare for the future? Part 2: How to put future readiness into practice

13 February 2024

Following on from Cathy Ward’s talk at GST XVIII in December, here’s the second part of our series on the Future Readiness Framework and how organisations can start changing today to enable a better future. You can find part 1 here.


In our previous blog post we described how Cathy Ward, Operating Partner at Keensight Capital and Founder of the Future Ready Agency, developed the Future Readiness Framework during her time as COO for SAP Asia Pacific Japan. We also outlined the “Dimensions of Change” organisations can measure their maturity in as part of a Future Readiness Diagnostic.

But where do we go from there? How do organisations use the insights from the diagnostic to start preparing for the future today? Cathy highlights that “as with any framework, scores need to be translated into action and executed to test, learn, and drive tangible outcomes.”

Businesses and their leaders can operationalise Future Readiness and put changes into practice today to enable outcomes for tomorrow.

So, let’s get started with the Future Ready Agency three step approach:


1. Prepare your baseline

The first phase is about understanding where your organisation is right now, using the Future Readiness Diagnostic to self-assess points of strength and weakness across the three areas of anticipated change: Future of Work, Future of Business and Future of Operations.

These three building blocks provide you with a benchmarked "future readiness score" and create a common language for businesses and their teams to speak about the future and develop future literacy.

2. Engage the collective

Whilst change starts with each of us, organisations can draw on the collective knowledge and ingenuity of their teams to scale-up and maximise impact.

Gathering 360 feedback from experts across your organisation will help validate the baseline, identify gaps, and engage the team in an insights-led workshop to initiate your future ready roadmap

3. Experiment to learn and Feedback

The future is uncertain – testing out ideas and capturing outcomes, is important to know what works. Establishing a "lab" environment within your organisation where the status-quo can be challenged, forward-thinking ideas tested, and outcomes measured will capture those practices with the greatest impact.


It's a continuous process, and the value comes from establishing a regular cadence with your team to gather feedback and re-run the diagnostic every few months, to monitor your future readiness maturity and develop a library of "next practices" which continually evolve to replace the best practices of the past.



What is the business impact of the Future Readiness Framework and "Next Practices"?

In her former SAP APJ COO role, Cathy saw impactful results from implementing the future readiness framework across the three macro areas of change.

In the Future of Work SAP APJ experimented with a new hiring approach that abandoned traditional job descriptions in favour of a "live chat show" format designed to attract a more diverse array of talent.

They also embraced flexible working conditions by launching a new version of the traditional office-based "coffee corner" as a new "coffee wander" podcast which allowed more of the team to join, whether working remotely or in the office.

For the Future of Business SAP APJ implemented a breakthrough idea from the presales team, shifting away from time-based recording towards customer value outcomes.

In just two quarters the pilot scheme saw the average deal size increase by 15% and win-rate increase by 14%, and a year down the line higher revenue retention rates for value-outcome engagements.

Finally, in the Future of Operations SAP APJ accelerated their adoption of new technologies, embedding machine learning, predictive analytics, and AI into their forecasting practices. This increased efficiency and freed up time for operations teams to focus on analysing insights and collaborating closer with senior leaders.

Overall, within 18 months SAP Asia Pacific Japan saw its leadership trust and employee engagement scores make a marked increase, accompanied by a double-digit growth in top-line revenues.

It’s never been more important for businesses to prepare for the seismic shifts of tomorrow. The Future Readiness Framework is giving organisations and teams the practical tools and shared language they need to get started, an easy-to-consume three-step approach to operate effectively today and secure the future of your business.  

At the end of the day, it will be up to individual companies to balance the urgency of operating today with preparing for the future, take risks and test out new ideas, steadily adding to the Future Ready Agency’s evolving library of "Next Practices". We’ll leave you with a quote from Cathy Ward herself:

"We live in a world of huge complexity, and complex systems are not compatible with prediction; they are about action, experimentation, reflection, and learning. The health of business is related to an organisation’s ability to adapt, thrive, and survive, and my passion is to work out an easy-to-consume, practical and outcomes-based approach to helping it do so."



If you’d like to find out more about the Future Ready Agency you can watch Cathy Ward’s full talk from GST XVIII here, or connect with Cathy Ward on LinkedIn here.

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