I’ve always asserted that the future really is visible—that you can predict events before they occur. When I’m delivering a keynote speech, I often say that the reason I have been so accurate about my predictions all these decades is because I leave out the parts I can be wrong about. It sounds simple, but it is also powerful when you realize how much you can be right about. The key was developing a methodology of separating what I call Hard Trends, trends that will happen, from Soft Trends, trends that might happen. It was sticking to that methodology that yielded a great track record of accuracy.
As a result, my predictions on what would happen have been spot on. The when varies depending on how many years I go out. For example, my predictions that were for 10 years out were correct, but some of them had timeframes that were off by a year or so. When I went 20 years out, the timeframes on some were off by as much as five years, but the predictions of what would happen were correct.
So will technology usher us into the world of “The Jetsons”—the futuristic cartoon of the 1960s that depicted the utopia world of 2062? In some ways we are already doing the things the Jetsons did. For example, I have had a computer controlled robot in my home since 1984, and today, one of my robots is a humanoid type that can climb a rope, speak in multiple languages, and do a cart wheel (the Jetson’s robot Rosie could not do that). When I’m in airports, moving walkways take me from Point A to Point B, and my high definition entertainment system does more than George Jetson’s ever did. Granted, my car does not fly, but with autonomous cars, and soon autonomous ships and autonomous drones, maybe even an autonomous car that flies like a drone is not far off.
If you want to get better at predicting the future, read my latest book Flash Foresight, which is required reading by many Fortune 50 companies. There are also many other great books, newsletters, and articles to read, not to mention TED Talks and other resources available to you. Thanks to the Three Digital Accelerators of processing power, digital storage, and digital bandwidth driving the pace of change ever faster, the future is closer than you think.
Looking forward, what does the visible future of your company or industry look like? What are you doing to prepare for it today?