“Perception is strong and sight weak. In strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things.”
Miyamoto Musashi
Tool Step

Role of this tool

Vectors is a graphical representation of our company innovation strategy over time. It shows what we are intending to innovate and what the steps along the way will be.

It is a form of backcasting in that it starts with a vision of our future (The fundamental question of backcasting asks: “If we want to attain a certain goal, what actions must be taken to get there?”).

We can use Vectors to understand and clarify our company’s future intentions if they haven’t already been written down clearly.

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How do we use it?

1. First we pick time horizons. We write the current year in the centre. The outer circle might be three years in the future or as far away as 30. The middle circle represents halfway. We can create other circles if we need more steps.

2. Next we ‘stand in the future’ by writing the intended innovations that we want to bring to market by each vector. There are four individual vector lines on the tool but we can draw in more if needed. Each vector can lead to a different innovation (e.g. different elements of a portfolio) or it can represent different parts of a complex innovation (e.g. a new vehicle). It can be useful to use scenario planning techniques at this stage to work out the future context in which our innovation will find itself.

3. Finally we work back from our future innovation to the present day noting down what essential steps we will need to take. These steps might be major breakthroughs in technology that we need to achieve our final innovation, or new capabilities we need to acquire. As we plan our innovation pathway we may find that individual vectors split into branches or merge with each other over time.

Source: Inspired by Richard Seymour


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Worked Example

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