Incumbent Disruptors: Using Ambidexterity and Strategic Foresight for Long-Term Marketplace Positioning

Traditional business planning falls prey to linear approaches and financially motivated strategies that serve stakeholders and investors. Incumbents reinforce these assumptions through their systems, talent sourcing, policies and culture creating an “official future” for the organization. This approach may

uphold in a stable environment but not the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous landscape of the 21st century. It is this “new normal” where disruption is a constant and will come from outside of our industry.

Successfully navigating a company through these post-normal times requires innovation, ambidexterity and the practice of Strategic Foresight. It is with this mindset, skillset and toolkit that organizations are equipped to create multiple functional views of alternative futures and possibilities. Organizations are then better positioned to identify potential threats and also capitalize on hidden opportunities.

Through the presenters’ extensive academic and external research and corporate tenure, it is evident that organizations must find a balance between exploiting existing resources and exploring new markets and strategies. A successful ambidextrous company requires supportive leadership that incentivizes collaboration and long-term wins. A living organization invests in developing high-calibre talent who can learn, unlearn and relearn as well as explore and ideate. Regardless of level of experience or function, organizational members are empowered to move beyond standard competitive intelligence practices to unlock transformational outcomes for the company.

Joana will share their insights and examples of “disruptive incumbents” who successfully leverage ambidexterity and Strategic Foresight.

Key topics

  • Learn the traits of “living companies” (Arie de Geus) and how to incorporate them for long-term marketplace positioning.
  • Understand how Strategic Foresight and ambidexterity support the sustainable enterprise.
  • Gain insights from academic research and case studies detailing characteristics of incumbent disruptors.


Speaker profile


Joana Lenkova has a vast 15 years of experience working in Marketing and Communications, Strategy, Strategic Foresight and Innovations across different FMCG, Finance and Entertainment blue-chip companies (AB-InBev, Societe Generale, Disney), as well as start-ups. Most recently Joana held a Consumer Strategy role at The Walt Disney Company. Being passionate about building future proof businesses and strategies,

Joana focused her research work on Ambidexterity and the role of Strategic Foresight in the success of incumbent and disruptive organizations as part of her Post Graduate Diploma in Strategy and Innovation at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. Joana’s balanced approach to resolving complex business issues is based on both, business acumen and creativity. She is passionate about Strategic Foresight and Scenario Planning and the business opportunities they unveil.