Without foresight, innovation can be a shot in the dark. We work closely with our clients to establish clear foresight and opportunities for innovation.

What are BusinessFutures and Futurealities?

We are eleven partners from Europe, the USA and Japan who form the core of our two London-based firms.

Jim Smith and Geoff Woodling established the Business Futures Network in 1983 at Stanford Research Institute, to provide horizon-scanning services for large international organisations. This was later spun-off as BusinessFutures.

Futurealities was formed in 2003 to help clients develop new business ventures inspired by the innovation possibilities arising from our futures work with them.

What do we do?

Working as partners in foresight, we conduct futures scanning assignments for our clients, helping them to anticipate future risks and areas of potential opportunity.

Then, as innovation partners, we work with their project teams to translate these opportunities into future concepts and to develop them further into new business initiatives.

Partners in foresight

What makes us different?

We focus on helping our clients generate new possibilities, not simply on describing alternative futures or diagnosing a lack of innovation. Our commitment to horizon scanning provides a continuing source of new ideas, from which we distil the weak signals of change that can point towards new areas of potential innovation.

What can we bring you?

Without foresight, innovation can be a shot in the dark. We:

  • help clients recognise the risks of adhering to prevailing worldviews;
  • create the opportunity to view futures from different perspectives;
  • anticipate the consequences of unsuspected change;
  • and stimulate new insights that can reveal possibilities for innovation.

How we contribute to successful innovation?

Our futures record endures because it is constantly challenged.

Innovation combines hard know-how with subtle cultural understanding.

We offer sensitivity to different cultures both within and across groups to sustain a shared narrative. Our network’s members bring their diverse experience and long record of earlier foresight.

The currency of many of the themes we identified is testimony to the long-term opportunities they reveal.

When can we help you?

Often when they are most successful, organisations begin to fear for their future.

Without creating and sustaining a culture of innovation, all organisations ultimately struggle to evolve. Because most people in organisations manage significant business innovation infrequently, they may need help to identify new possibilities and take these from future concept to reality. Our role is to add those capabilities required to deliver a business innovation project and build confidence in its successful outcome.

For whom have we worked?

Many clients are from sectors most exposed to rapid technological change.

For the most part we work with large multinationals that continually face new competition and have to manage innovation across businesses and geographies, often at odds with institutional processes that inhibit change.

Our service sector clients, both public and private, share a common concern to adapt to the evolution of different work and lifestyles in property and places around the globe.

Whom will you meet and where?

Together with our network of contributors we form a global practice team: in London, San Francisco, Tokyo and Stockholm.

Geoff Woodling and George Mallen in London, Jim Smith in California and Mariko Fujiwara in Tokyo are the founding partners and Christer Tufvesson in Sweden soon joined us. Alberto Scarpa, Keith Bradley, Alan Craft and Roger Edmunds became our London partners in Futurealities, later joined by Wyn Jones in Massachusetts, Eileen McGinnis and Brock Hinzmann in Silicon Valley, California.

Hakuhodo Innovation Lab is Business Futures’ partner in Japan and part of the Hakuhodo advertising group.

System Simulation Ltd is our office host and sister company in the UK: a pioneer of software engineering, specialising in collections and digital asset management systems.

Scanning the future horizon
Innovation Partnering