Flash Foresight Executive Summary

Have you ever wished you could predict the future—and be right?

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Flash Foresight BookWhat would it be like if you could clearly see critical changes in the months and years ahead, and use those glimpses to shape that future, instead of just letting it unfold by default? You can, says noted visionary, technology forecaster and business strategist Daniel Burrus. But the buzzwords of the past two decades—being agile, staying proactive, thinking outside the box—are no longer enough.

In a world that is transforming at unprecedented and accelerating rates, it takes something more. It takes flash foresight: the ability to trigger a burst of accurate insight about the future and use it to produce a new and radically different way of doing things. In his new book, Flash Foresight (HarperBusiness, 2011), Burrus takes the concept of looking into the future and transforms it into a new paradigm for solving “impossible” problems, unearthing “invisible” opportunities, and running extraordinarily successful businesses in the twenty-first century.

Using the first of Burrus’s “seven radical principles,” you’ll learn how to use The Power of Certainty to spot and profit from future trends long before your competitors do. Just look at Apple, who accurately saw the trends of accelerating bandwidth, processing power, and high-capacity storage and harnessed them to create the megahits iPod, iTunes, iPhone and iPad. Meanwhile, Polaroid, Kodak and Motorola spent years clinging to analog models while their competitors triumphed by grasping the arrival of the digital age. GM failed to respond to trends that were obvious for over a decade (rising gas prices driven by increased global demand from China and India, and improving quality from foreign rivals), and Blockbuster lost out to Netflix by failing to embrace the leap to virtual space.

Anyone can avoid the fate of Polaroid, Kodak, Motorola, GM and Blockbuster, and instead create must-have products and high-demand services — as Apple, Canon, Toyota, Netflix and so many others have — by seeing what others can’t: the hard trends that are shaping our future. All it takes is learning where and how to look, by developing your sense of flash foresight.

Remember 1999, when the U.S. government predicted a trillion-dollar surplus? We’ve all made similar, wildly wrong predictions because we confuse cyclical change (the stock market) with linear change (population growth), and don’t know how to distinguish hard trends (baby boomers are aging) from soft trends (there won’t be enough doctors to treat aging baby boomers). It doesn’t have to be that way. Burrus shows you how to distinguish what’s certain (future fact) from what’s uncertain (future maybe). You’ll also learn six equally powerful principles that trigger flash foresights, including:

  • Anticipate (base your strategies on what will happen in the future);
  • Transform (how you sell, market, collaborate, communicate, educate and innovate);
  • Take your biggest problem — and skip it (it’s not your real problem anyway);
  • Go opposite (look where no one else is looking to see what no one else is seeing);
  • Redefine and reinvent (use tech-driven change to create new products and services);
  • Strategically direct your future (or someone else will direct it for you).

Burrus doesn’t stop at honing your flash foresight skills. He also shares the most prevalent trends and how innovative businesses can profit from them. And, as he points out, if you don’t act on these trends now, someone else will.

Using his seven radical principles and drawing on provocative examples that range from small companies and entrepreneurial startups to multinational organizations, Burrus illustrates how such accurate flashes of insight about the future are the key to successful innovation — and how they are learned behaviors that will help you see ahead of the curve and navigate a solution before the rest of the world even sees a problem coming.