“Assumptions are but dangerous illusions that provide a mirage of future predictability!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
The future is ultimately wildly unpredictable.
That’s quite the statement coming from someone whose very job is to predict the future for a wide range of clients, industries, and professions. And yet, often in my guidance, I’ll paint a picture of unpredictability by sharing my key rules about how to understand the volatility of what comes next. Key rule? “Volatility is the new normal!”
But here are 10 more things to understand about the future:
- It’s faster than you think
- It’s bigger than you think
- It involves trends you aren’t yet aware of
- It’s going to challenge every single assumption you have
- It will happen, but sometimes, only eventually, because timing any trend is a massive challenge
- In that context, it usually starts out slow, and is then, suddenly instant
- Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, it will immediately change
- It often will involve surprises and twists and turns you hadn’t thought of
- It will go in a direction that will blow your mind
- It will eventually make the impossible, possible.
- Spinal Tap bonus: It will cause you to regularly think, “why didn’t I think of that?”
What is the impact of this reality? Prepare for anything, always have a flexible plan, and make ‘agility’ your middle name! Nothing is cast in stone – the world around you has become so volatile and unpredictable that you need to always be ready to do the unexpected – quickly. That’s the mindset you need for the world of business today. Our future is being marked by higher levels of economic uncertainty, much of it driven by new political realities; extreme trend volatility and unpredictability; and the acceleration of all trends. What you really need is the ability to thrive on uncertainty – build up your reserves of ‘contingency innovation.’
Most companies and leaders aren’t very good at this type of thinking. They’ve got lots of strategic planning in place, often based on a certain path forward. They’re rigid and inflexible – their structure binds them to a path of uncertainty. And yet it’s when that path is shifted, twisted, and torn that things go wrong. Planning goes out the window – survival takes over. Yet there is a better way – a continuous structure of contingency alternatives!
Structure for volatility! Align to surprise! Be ready for the unexpected!
Because it’s the unknown that will often define you!