Author: Anna Konnoniuk, BUT, Poland

How do companies envisage the future? The case of Volkswagen – Open Foresight Project

The company’s underlying foresight concept is the reconciliation of the two somewhat opposing (but not mutually exclusive) notions: strategy (implying focus and clear orientation) and innovation (implying openness and diffusion). Volkswagen Open Foresight project aimed at to supporting the strategy process of one department within Volkswagen Group Research and at fostering the acceptance of innovative foresight and innovation management tools in the long-range strategic planning processes. The project combined an open innovation approach and strategy development based on scenarios that had been developed beforehand. It was conducted as a joint project of two departments at Group Research of the Volkswagen Group, Wolfsburg.

The project was divided into four stages:

  1. Creating four different futures for 2030 based in the sources from STEEP analysis
  2. Identifying critical key success factors and consistent strategic options by “wind tunnelling” strategies
  3. Identification of promising fields of future innovation using Information Market approach
  4. Decision on strategy and top innovations

The focus was on engaging top management and experts in an open dialog on strategy and product innovation, supporting ‘future proofing’ the mid- to long-term strategy of the respective department as well as on getting strategic insights by integrating the knowledge of the whole Group Research organization via the information market approach.

The following list of key factors for a successful foresight exercise was developed in the aftermath of the project:

Organizational enablers: futures thinking must be owned and adequately supported

  • Supported by top management.
  • Allocated sufficient resources and capacity.
  • Cross-functional teams.
  • Embedded in business units.

Process enablers: the process must be pluralistic, engaging and focused.

  • Clear objectives.
  • Sufficiently broad to generate new thinking.
  • Accepting of multiple futures.
  • Consultative: Internally and externally

Implementation enablers: implementation must be strategic and sufficiently embedded.

  • Make the process transparent.
  • Outputs relevant to corporate strategy.
  • Iterative.
  • Integrated into planning process.
  • Established audience.


C.V. Rudzinski, G. Uerz, ‘Volkswagen: Open Foresight at the Front End of Research Innovation’ in Gassmann O. and Schweitzer F. (eds.), Management of the Fuzzy Front End of Innovation. Switzerland: International Publishing Switzerland; 2014. pp. 295–299

  1. Nazarko, J. Ejdys, K. Halicka, Ł. Nazarko, Foresight Application for Transport Sector, [w:] M. Fiorini (ed.) Clean Mobility and Intelligent Transport Systems, The Institution of Engineering and Technology, London 2015, p. 379-402