Strategic anticipation, to stay relevant and successful in Business

Anticipation is not empathy, anticipation is not imagination, anticipation as a business acumen skill can be defined as the ability to look ahead to see things.


Anticipation, if you are good with anticipating what the world needs and build that, there is a good chance your business will be successful.

Let me try to explain.

What everyone is talking about is artificial intelligence, machine learning, branding, communication, marketing etc etc. Yes, its all important. But one thing we are forgetting is the business you start or you are in today is not just for today. It is for today and for the future. So if you are not prepared for the future then, your competition will surpass you and you become irrelevant. Few examples, Kodak, Nokia and Blackberry.

What did they fail to do? I am not sure in what all they failed, but they definitely failed to anticipate.

The most famous quote attributed to Ford is this: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” He may or may not have said this, but to an extent it might be true that people would have said so. This is why market research goes wrong many times and brand comes up with products the market does not want. So anticipation is really important.

However lets for a minute imagine people would have actually said we want better means of transport. While your users may not know what exactly they want, they often know their problems, can tell you feedback, can tell you stories. Now as businesses its your responsibility to put it all together and see things through.

If you are in the design world, empathy is a word everyone throughs around. While empathy is important, empathy does not cover anticipation. Empathy might solve today’s problem. But you need a lot more than empathy to stay relevant.

It is worth reading Carol’s article which explains how you can build anticipation by doing certain things like, asking the right questions to the customer, studying behavior and numbers and being aware of the vocal minority.

Another book which I came across which explains a lot about how to do good user research is The Mom Test.

Anticipate and design products & services, you will win.

Five reasons why we must become better at anticipating the future by Neelraman.

  • You will predict trends ahead of time.
  • You will become more creative and innovative.
  • You will be a step ahead of your competition.
  • You will become better at making informed decisions.
  • You will continuously grow as a person.

Read a wonderful article from Economic Times ‘Companies anticipating, adapting to changes to stay relevant’ . It takes things to a different level and explains how your anticipation needs to be multi dimensional. Anticipation is just not for customers, it is also for market trends, employees, technologies, platforms, jobs etc.

According to Accenture 1 out of 4 customers say they would simply stop doing business with a company that isn’t relevant. Meeting customer demands is not enough to stay relevant, as businesses you need to do a lot more.

Anticipation is not empathy, anticipation is not imagination, anticipation as a business acumen skill can be defined as the ability to look ahead to see things others, including customers and competitors, don’t see and then developing solutions in the form of products and services that are executed before your competitors, and before customers give up looking for the solution.

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