What should a company do when its core product is on a 20-year declining path, where big and powerful new competitors are entering the market and where it has given up direct control of the retail distribution business that ultimately determines the consumer experience?

Also, all of this happening in the midst of an industry that is undergoing rapid transformation. This is the situation in which a Fortune 100 fuel producer has found itself in 2013.

By the Numbers

Together, we produced the following outcomes

What We Did Together

Understanding the future is difficult. No one has a crystal ball and there is no way to predict the future with certainty. However, there are a number of tools you can use to envision plausible futures and to assess and gain insights into what could happen that influence your path forward. This is the essence of Inovo’s future insight process.

What the company needed was a set of scenarios and stories that would inform their decisions. The way we developed this together is by using a process that looked for evidence of consensus trends and weak signals, found patterns and forces that resulted in future state descriptions and used these patterns and forces to develop influence diagrams and scenarios.

We then used these scenarios to tell relevant stories that can inform strategy and opportunity development. This was a four-month journey that took the team far and wide, both within and adjacent to the retail fuel ecosystem. It covered everything from trends in urbanization and autonomous vehicles to the future of the virtual intelligent assistant.

It took the team into the science and technology behind new energy and performance molecules and into what ‘loyalty’ will mean in the future. The process involved numerous engagements with a wide variety of individuals, in depth research and scanning of hundreds of sources, vigorous debates, creative brainstorming and collaborative design and construction of influence diagrams, scenarios and stories.

The Outcome

This project created thousands of ‘snippets’ of data and information, fourteen future state descriptions, three influence diagrams with multiple scenarios and six final future stories.  These six stories can now be used as touch points for communicating possible futures and as a framework within which to analyze strategies and create new opportunities. When combined with a robust Opportunity Discovery project (as this was) Future Insights can be a powerful method for learning what’s next.


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A well-defined innovation strategy frames and guides your innovation initiatives towards tangible results. An explicit Innovation Strategy prepares you to deal with the
uncertain future to your advantage rather than to your surprise.

Larry Schmitt , Managing Partner

The Inovo Group