What might the future look like for a massive quick service restaurant (QSR) chain? And how can the company continue to evolve to meet its and its partners’ needs over time tackling this question and trying to answer it is what we called the ‘art of the possible.’
Based on what we knew then and what we expected the global QSR’s needs to be in the future, we worked with them to come up with ideas to unlock a broader range of possible solutions.
How We Did It
Brainstorming and designing far-out futures is our bread and butter. Yet it might not be so comfortable for those who are less familiar. With the client team we designed a series of workshops to get folks in the right mindset.
One tool we often use is combinatorics. Participants chose a card from the ‘emerging tech’ pile (such as RFID) and one from the ‘supply chain’ pile and came up with ways the two could work together — like putting RFID on each item to track when it leaves the backroom of a store and needs to be refilled.
This helps us think beyond the links in the present and forces us to consider what could be. But we don’t stop there. We also brainstormed what the future might look like after or beyond RFID. Thinking about more far-out. Futures can unlock what might seem radical, but may actually be genius.
Another move we love is odyssey planning. The idea is to consider a range of different futures. Given each future, we work backward to the present to better understand what circumstances, tools, or skills will be required to make those futures more feasible. This way of thinking allows us to look beyond our current knowledge, thoughts, and beliefs and explore new possibilities.What might the future look like for a massive retail chain? And how can the company continue to evolve to meet its and its partners’ needs over time Tackling this question and trying to answer it is what we called the ‘art of the possible.’
These workshops showed participants that not only is change possible, but also there are countless opportunities to think creatively. In such an established supply chain, it can be hard to move the needle and get people excited about something new.
And sometimes, pushing beyond our comfort zone with others is the best way to learn how to work together. The workshops didn’t just yield great ideas for the future — they also changed the way folks across the three-legged stool (the QSR chain itself, supply chain, and owners operators) engaged with each other, improving day-to-day communications in the now. We heard things like, “we thought we had to compete, but doing this workshop allowed us to see we can come to a better future by collaborating.”
We thought we had to compete, but doing this workshop allowed us to see we can come to a better future by collaborating.