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Starting from Scratch: The Future as a Choice by Alexander Manu

Alexander Manu | @AlexanderManu

Provocative author, speaker and leading practitioner in the field of strategic foresight Alexander Manu, surveys the fast changing context for incumbent organizations in market spaces where online behaviour is replacing physical proximity, and users seek engagement with platforms and services that allow them to behave, to leave a mark, and to participate in the community of others.

This is a major challenge to incumbent organizations as their markets are being disrupted on an unprecedented scale. To survive and be adopted in the new ecology, incumbents need to understand that this is not about change, but it is about transformation. While Change affects the condition of something in relation with a previous condition, Transformation affects the nature of something, the very structure and working mechanisms of an activity, as well as its relationship to everything around. This is the major provocation of the future, the transformation of all relationships, and how it will affect society, business, culture and consumption models.

The transformation at hand starts with the strategic question: if you were designing your organization today how would you design it? This means Starting from Scratch; it means the ability and agility to create the future from the ingredients of the present alone. In this context the future is not an imagined destination years down the road, but simply a symbol placeholder for an environment that is unlike the environment around us today. This means designing life on Earth at the level of the possibility that surrounds us, and not at the level of our inherited capability.

Manu proposes that we have two clear choices when it comes to our treatment of the future: Choice number one is to stay in the present and let the future flow towards you. Choice number two is to design your path to where the future is, and purposefully claim it as YOUR future. The future is not a Forecast; the future is a Foresight.

Key Topics

  • Future-proofing the organization for the behaviour economy
  • Strategic Ambition
  • New Models: The Subscription Economy
  • Data as Material and the challenge of working without archetypes


Alexander Manu is a strategic innovation practitioner, international lecturer and author. He provides strategic counsel and future based advisory to executive teams in Fortune 500 companies in industries as diverse as consumer packaged goods, media, advertising, mobile communications and manufacturing.  Alexander lectures around the world on innovation, imagination, change agents and strategic foresight.  He teaches “Innovation, Foresight and Business Design” at the Rotman School of Management, is a Professor at the OCAD University in Toronto and a visiting lecturer at the Wallace McCain Institute for Entrepreneurship.

In his client and research work, Alexander is involved in transforming organizations by exploring and defining new competitive spaces, the development of new strategic business competencies and creation of imaginative innovation methods. He believes that the exploration of possibility requires imagination as a prerequisite for strategic change and innovation.  For over 25 years he has enabled global companies as diverse as Motorola, LEGO, Whirlpool, Nokia, Navteq and Unilever,  to develop policies and strategies that address emerging issues through strategic foresight and pre-competitive business models. 

His most recent book,” Transforming Organizations for the Subscription Economy: Starting from Scratch” will be released by Gower Publishing in 2017. 

Session Presented By

AccelerateAB2017 - Aspen Properties