How to forecast future needs

On the 30th of January 2019, we had the pleasure to lead the workshop about how to forecast future customers’ needs and create foresights during the annual meeting of the Swiss Society of System Engineering (SSSE) in Zürich.

Our team, like the system engineers, are practitioners of system thinking: founders
of Rokanan worked with Greg Yezersky, the creator of the General Theory of Innovation
(GTI) for years and co-wrote a book explaining the principles of GTI; the Switzerland regional
manager is a certified GTI consultant too.

What systemic forecasting is

Today on the market we can see the rise of agile and lean methods. While we
appreciate how effectively they promote the subject of innovation; they do not cover all
aspects. They focus on the product without considering the impact on the environment.
Moreover, the source of ideas lies in empathising with existing customer needs. This does
not provide any advantage as all competitors can talk to a customer too. Systemic innovation covers those aspects. While introducing new products and services a systemic innovator considers the effect that product will have on its natural, social and business environment.

Moreover, using GTI Law of System Evolution we try to anticipate future needs. This Law says the evolution is not random. We use it to build the future scenarios of the products, services, organisations or markets.

Figure 1 presents the major groups of Evolutionary Templates – the tools that are based
on objective evolutionary patterns.

This forecasting methodology was the subject of our workshop. We used as an example of a new prototype of drone delivery e-commerce service. It was interesting to the participants, as a few days earlier, a drone transporting blood to the hospital had fallen to the Zürichsee (Zurich lake).

The exercise we did

We started with building a Value Map which visually represents how the service is used. After creating the Value Map we applied a few Evolutionary Templates. During the short exercise, we came up with some new features and interesting areas for service improvement. The Value Map and the ideas are on Figure 2 below.


Benefits of systemic forecasting

There are many, very powerful innovation methods and tools. Each of them has its strengths and weaknesses. In our opinion, the System Evolutionary Forecasting is the most reliable approach to foresighting and future needs discovery as it is based on the scientific foundations. The ideas we create during the process can be used for developing new features before customers realise the need.  But if you take time to apply all templates you would obtain hundreds of ideas. If you analyse them, you identify patterns and trends so you can focus on the most promising areas. This is can be used for creating R&D programs, product strategies and generally to radically increase ROI from the company’s new product development process.

If you are looking for a way to create and sustain growth, don’t hesitate to contact us.


He is a Regional Manager and GTI Evangelist for DACH region. He lives in Regensdorf, Switzerland and is an experienced innovation implementation consultant. Pawel has a vast experience in knowledge management, business process improvement, quality improvement, process and data mining. He led knowledge management unit and worked as a project manager in global projects.

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