Have you ever wished you could predict the future—and be right? What 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 accurately predict enough of the future to make all the difference. In fact, you can hone your 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. Called a flash foresight, this is about looking into the future and transforming it into a new paradigm for solving “impossible” problems, unearthing “invisible” opportunities, and running extraordinarily successful businesses in the twenty-first century.
For the past 25 years, I have been studying and systematically applying flash foresight, and I have discovered the following seven principles or “triggers” that lead to flash foresight results:
1. Start with certainty (use hard trends to see what’s coming)
You can use the power of certainty to spot and profit from future trends long before your competitors do. Just look at Apple, which 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.
Likewise, 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).
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 (the baby boomers are aging) from soft trends (there won’t be enough doctors to treat aging baby boomers). However, by distinguishing what’s certain (future fact) from what’s uncertain (future maybe), you can make accurate predictions.
Anyone can avoid the fate of Polaroid, Kodak, Motorola, and GM and instead create must-have products and high-demand services—as Apple, Canon, Toyota, and so many others have—by seeing what others can’t: the hard trends that are shaping our future.