Strategic Foresight in Business Management
Media house A-lehdet Oy, the world's largest online store specialized in Nordic design Finnish Design Shop, and growth marketing company Genero together form A-lehdet Group, a household name in all of Finland.
“The media field is a pioneer in digitalization. The turbulence we have already experienced has only just started in many industries,” says Kaisa Ala-Laurila, who worked as a CEO at A-lehdet Oy during the program.
Strategy work at the conglomerate has always included identifying and analyzing forces of change. Ala-Laurila decided to participate in Aalto EE’s Strategic Foresight in Business Management program to gain new perspectives for even more systematic and continuous foresight work.
Ala-Laurila says that above all, the program gave her a more in-depth understanding of foresight and the kind of processes that A-lehdet Group could use to take it forward.
Our instructors Eeva Vilkkumaa and Antti-Jussi Tahvanainen were marvelous.''
“Our instructors Eeva Vilkkumaa and Antti-Jussi Tahvanainen were marvelous. Vilkkumaa for example presented a mathematical, strategy-based method of modelling that enables organizations to find immense hidden insight: scenarios and combinations of factors that create our future. It left a lasting impression,” Ala-Laurila reminisces.
“Tahvanainen gave us excellent and very concrete tools for foresight work, including for instance methods for modelling future consumer behavior based on current actions. He also shared a very memorable timeline showcasing how early on there were weak signals of disruptions that ended up taking nearly everyone by surprise,” she adds.
Ala-Laurila describes her study experience as highly beneficial and extremely fun. She says she was positively surprised by how practical the program was.
“We were divided into groups at the beginning of the program, and we quickly developed good competitive spirit. We got hands-on experience of numerous foresight tools during exercises – and our instructors were always there to guide us if we got stuck or started down the wrong path. This learning method suited me very well,” explains Ala-Laurila.
We got hands-on experience of numerous foresight tools during exercises – and our instructors were always there to guide us if we got stuck or started down the wrong path.''
“We presented the outcomes of our exercises in many ways: drawing, writing, building with Lego blocks, and even acting. Studying in our group was hilariously fun, and the other groups all seemed to be having an enormously good time as well,” she continues.
Ala-Laurila participated in the program together with A-lehdet Group’s CFO.
“I think it’s always a good idea to have at least two people from the same organization participating in a program. It’s a great deal easier to implement the things you learn when you have a shared learning experience with a colleague,” she points out.
Upon finishing the program, Ala-Laurila presented her Management Team and the Group’s Board of Directors an idea of how to start taking lessons learned into action.
“We collectively decided to start trying out insights from the program right away,” says Ala-Laurila.
“Our first move was to organize a three-month planning period, during which a full-time resource thoroughly assessed strategic foresight methods that we could utilize in our Group. Next, we initiated a pilot project and decided to analyze its first results in autumn 2020,” she adds.
Ala-Laurila affirms that she is happy to endorse Aalto EE’s Strategic Foresight in Business Management program.
“Regardless of your role, if you have the need and opportunity to utilize foresight tools in your work, I recommend participating. I also recommend approaching every exercise from a practical standpoint: consider how you could best utilize the various tools and processes in your own company,” she concludes.
Learn more about the Strategic Foresight in Business Management program
Since this interview was conducted, Kaisa Ala-Laurila has moved to another organization.