Currently I am involved in a portfolio management exercise that covers brands, products, and projects on the books for a modest sized but rapidly growing business. A pretty standard exercise that most thoughtful businesses go through on a regular basis as a part of their strategic processes.

However, it occurred to me that the information, and mindset we were using reflected either an internal view of theĀ  piece we were looking at, often driven by what had worked in the past, or by industry trend data, that again, reflected an extrapolation of what had happened in the past, the underlying assumption that the past would repeat itself.

We know that the old saying “those who do not understand the past are destined to repeat it” is true, but what of the flip side, deliberately ignoring the past, to envision the possibilities, and using that to inform your portfolio management decisions.

We tried it, and whilst the process is incomplete, it is certain that the outcome has been altered substantially to what it may have been. We have also concluded that looking from the outside in should be a discipline we impose on ourselves, as that is how the markets, competitors, and innovative insights that can be very “left field” will look at us.