back to the future: for real

using the world of tomorrow to make a difference today in retail

Our client, a UK retailer, was being attacked by the competition on all sides. We had spent six years helping them with operational performance and organisation design. We now needed to focus our attention on improving stores performance.

our approach

One option at our disposal was scenario planning. But we wanted to do something that went further than this. The approach we proposed was to project forward into the world of 2020 and focus only on the things we could be sure of. We spent three months gathering the data and the statistics to build a clear, real picture of this world.

Six big challenges emerged from this picture: population change, climate change, use of resources, changes in society, changes in global economic power, and technology. With a clear sight into the world we were moving towards, we then asked the question, ‘What do we need to do to get ready for this world?’

For our client, the two key issues relating to their stores were wellbeing and location. With people living longer, staying healthy is an increasingly important concern, so a broader wellbeing offer was needed. In terms of location, it was clear that people would not be travelling so much to out of town retail sites.

We helped our client to refocus their stores offering to reflect these two issues, working with them to identify specific products and services to be added or taken away. We then helped them to clarify and implement the strategy.

our insights

One of the key phases in our unique DNA of Change model is ‘Presentism’: people’s tendency to be stuck in the present, projecting the world they know now onto both past and future (“This is the way it’s always been and always will be”). Presentism is a very real block preventing businesses moving forward in the direction and at the pace they need to, in order to thrive in a world of constant change.

At the same time, people are more disposed to seeing things with fresh eyes at one remove. By building a picture of the world our client would be facing based on external data and statistics rather than internal views and experience, we were able to bring in some objectivity. This enabled us to see the way forward more clearly and work together on building the most effective solution.

the results

The stores that were reconfigured saw an immediate 27% increase in sales. Over the next eight years our client experienced 5% overall growth. The director who led the work went on to become chief executive of the company.