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The Crystal Ball: Understanding the Future of Your Market

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Managers are often faced with the challenge of positioning a business for the future in the midst of a fast-changing environment. One way to do so is to work backwards. Figure out where you want to be in the future, and then determine what you need to do today to get there.

The problem with this approach, of course, is how to assess the future market. Here's a process you can use to begin to understand the future of your current market, or any market. It also brings consensus to those responsible for mapping out a strategic marketing plan.

The process is best done with a group of knowledgeable people in your company. Break up the group into different teams comprised of people from different functional areas and backgrounds. Each team will do the process independently. The process takes about three hours - a reasonable amount of time given how important it is to understand the future.

Before beginning the procedure, have the entire group decide on a time frame for the future - say three to five years. The exact number isn't important, but it is important that everyone agrees what the time frame is.

Now, break up the group into teams and have each team go through the following steps.


  1. Identify and list all possible developments and changes in customer needs, competitors, technologies, major stakeholders, economics, culture, and any other relevant areas for your business.

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Allen Weiss is the founder and publisher of He can be reached at

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