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A creative way to get a group to develop exciting opportunities for their organization, their division or department from strategic trends.

This intervention uses the gold premium tool - Strategic Trends Cards, which contains up to date information on political, social, economic, technological and business trends. The trends stimulate creative thinking and help the groups to identify exciting new opportunities for their organization, division or department.



Use this intervention when you need a group to generate new opportunities in order to:

  • Develop a strategic plan.
  • Come up with new innovative ideas.
  • Create innovative new products or services.
  • Find creative ways to achieve a challenging target.
  • Identify new markets.
  • Get excited about change.
  • Think creatively 'outside of the box'.

It is best to do this activity in a number of smaller groups. (Up to 8 people per group.)

An intervention that uses strategic trends to stimulate creative thinking about opportunities.

Time required:

  • 2-3 hours.


  • Internet connectivity in the room you are working in. If you are working at a guest lodge or hotel, arrange Wi-Fi access for every delegate on your workshop. Ensure you give them their log in details (user name and password), before the workshop begins and check that they know how to log in to the Wi-Fi.
  • Each small group (or each individual) should bring their own device (tablets, computers) that can access the Internet.
  • Each small group should have a gold membership to access the latest up to date trends. Arrange this a few days before your workshop or retreat. Each member in the group will use the same group log on. The group will all pin their chosen trends to the same group pin board.
  • Print out a page for each group showing how to access the strategic trends tool on website. Provide the following information on the page:

Intervention activity.

1. Get the group connected to the Internet.

Ensure that everyone who has brought their own device (a tablet or computer), can log in to the Internet.

2. Explain what a trend is.


A trend is something that is happening now that is likely to continue in the future. A trend contains facts rather than opinions.

We look at trends in the political, economic, social, business and technological environments. We then use these trends to:

  • Identify new opportunities
  • Develop future scenarios, and use this scenario to identify the new rules for being successful within the future.

Today we are going to use trends to create new opportunities.

2. Explain how to use the strategic trends tool.


Give each group the page you prepared showing them how to log in to the member zone, go to the gold premium tool, and click on the yellow strategic trends tool.

Show them how:

  • They can use the orange filter buttons at the top of the page to filter the trends into categories: Political, social, economic, technological and business trends.

  • By clicking on any trend, they will open up the strategic trend card. This card provides detailed factual information on that trend. Should they want to delve further, they can also click on the references supplied at the bottom of each card.

  • OD-intervention
  • If they like a card, at the bottom of the page is a button. "Pin this strategic trend card." By clicking the button they can pin their favorite cards to a Strategic Trends pin board. The group leader should pin the cards on behalf of the group so that there is one set of pinned cards per team.

  • The group leader can access the cards pinned by the group at any time, by clicking on the Strategic_Trends Pin board under the blue member's button.

3. Group activity. Groups pin their favorite trend cards to their pin board.


Give the groups between one and two hours to go through the strategic trend cards.

They should pin their favorite cards to the Strategic_Trends pin board. Get them to pin no more than 7 cards per group to the pin board. If they have more than 7 cards pinned, they can delete the less important trends from the pin board by clicking on the delete button on the pin board.

4. Explain what an opportunity is.

An opportunity can be:

  • To sell more of our existing products and services:
    • To new market segments or new customers.
    • To identify new needs our existing customers have and to sell something to provide for these needs.
    • To find a new use for our existing products and services.
    • To package our products and services differently in a way that adds value.
    • To use new distribution channels.
    • To cross sell products and services between different divisions of our organization or its alliances.
  • To provide a new mix of our products and services.
  • OD-intervention
  • To add a service to a product, and a product to a service.
  • To add value to what we offer. To find ways to:
    • Make it quicker and easier for our customers to do business with us.
    • Simplify our offering so it is easier for our customers to understand, buy and use our products and services.
    • Customize our products and services.
    • Package what we know and sell this know how as a product.

Summarize with the following short definition of an opportunity.


Now forget everything except this.
An opportunity simply answers the question:

What can we provide to whom.

  • What refers to a specific product or service.
  • Whom refers to a particular market or group of people.

5. Group activity. Use your trends cards to brainstorm new opportunities.

  1. Go to the trends you pinned on your Strategic_Trends Pin board.

  2. For each trend you pinned, brainstorm:

"What can we provide to whom"

Be specific. What products or services can you provide to which market?

  • You can either record your opportunities on a flip-chart,


  • You can click on the edit button on your pin board, and record your opportunity ideas there. This is quicker and easier and allows you later to print out your trends and all your opportunity ideas in a single document.
  • You can also group a number of related trends or opportunity ideas together if you wish, by pressing the assign to trend group button.
  • Remember to press Save to save your opportunity ideas to your pin board.


6. Group feedback.

Get groups to share their most exciting opportunities with the larger group.

  1. If they recorded their opportunities on a flip-chart paper they can use their flip-chart to share their favorite opportunities with the larger group.
  2. If they recorded their ideas on their strategic trends pin board, then they can press the button "Strategic Trends Report" at the top of their pin board. This will generate a summary of their trends and opportunities on one page. By linking their computer or tablet to a projector, they can quickly show their opportunities to the larger group. They can also copy their opportunities from the report and paste them into a Word document.

As the groups share their opportunities, notice how excited and energized they become.

How to vary this intervention.

Get the groups to choose their most exciting idea, and to act it out as a play. Each play should have a future customer as the main character in the play, as well as people from your organization who are providing the new product or service to the customer. When a group acts out the opportunity in terms of how the customer will experience it, it adds detail and excitement to the opportunity.

Why this intervention works.

    Existing paradigms often prevent people from thinking differently about their business. Using trends to brainstorm opportunities gets a team excited about new things they could be doing to delight customers.

  1. If you ask groups to brainstorm new opportunities without referring to trends, they struggle. They find it difficult to move beyond their existing paradigms without new information that gets them to see the world differently.
  2. When people begin by looking at new trends, their minds open up. They begin to see exciting new markets. They become aware of how their customers needs are changing. They see how other industries are offering new products and services that may apply to their own industry. It becomes easy and exciting for them to identify new opportunities, once they have had exposure to new trends.
  3. The trends-opportunities activity gets people thinking creatively about what they could provide to their customers. It is the turning point of any strategic planning, innovation, or business development workshop.

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