More often than not, many businesses and organizations I work with view it as difficult or even impossible to foresee problems before they occur in our unpredictable world. In many ways, the circumstances we faced during the coronavirus pandemic were really nothing new. Sure, we may have never experienced this level of uncertainty before but being ahead of the curve by implementing my Anticipatory Organization Model and understanding what we can be certain about using my Hard Trend Methodology is always applicable.
Where Do We Even Begin?
Many start their business or career looking to change the world or their industry, but they do not know where to start.
Having helped organizations with future planning and innovation for several decades, I applied personal experience and extensive research to develop a methodology for separating Hard Trends, which are future certainties that will happen, with Soft Trends, or future possibilities that are open to influence.
Hard Trends cannot be changed while Soft Trends can. Understanding this allows you to see problems before they occur and pre-solve them, allowing you to redefine risk management and boldly innovate with relatively low risk. Conversely, just because Soft Trends may or may not happen does not mean that they won’t happen; they are just not a future fact.
Should I Avoid Agility?
During the pandemic, we witnessed people largely embracing an agile mindset to deal with the accelerating pace of exponential technological change, solely playing defense.
Instead, we should be shifting our mindset to one of anticipation, where you implement both a good offense and defense in your business strategies. The playing field has been leveled for many thanks to the pandemic, and most of us got quite comfortable in being agile.
While agility is important, you need to be anticipatory and play offense as well. Can you think of any championship sports team that literally won using only defense, where the offense never once took the field? Absolutely not!
Even the best competitors still had to score points by disrupting the opponent’s defense, and that’s what an anticipatory mindset is all about! There are several Soft Trends we cannot fully predict, but there are thousands of fully predictable Hard Trends you can see and use them to your advantage.
Categories of Hard Trends
Hard Trends are interlaced in all of our daily lives, business operations, and even our hobbies. That may sound overwhelming; however, they are more predictable than you realize.
Here are the three categories of Hard Trends I have identified in my research:
Over the years, I have mentioned the Hard Trend of our aging population of Baby Boomers in the United States. However, let’s consider the younger generations becoming parents and their children. The Hard Trend here is that said new children are born every day, as it is unlikely that no new children will be born, and a Soft Trend is the toys their children find enjoyable.
During the coronavirus pandemic, technology trends accelerated by five to 10 years in just a matter of months. Cloud computing, e-commerce and working remotely are just a few examples of this as we all were forced to change. In total, the pandemic has accelerated 16 technology trends far beyond an exponential level, revealing several new opportunities.
Every country has government regulations, and they are ever-evolving. Will many industries have more confusion because of changing regulations? Yes, so perhaps developing an artificial intelligence–related mobile compliance app that lets you know the latest rules based on your GPS location for each task is an essential opportunity.
How Cyclical and Linear Change Applies
In addition to understanding future certainties and future possibilities, the concepts of change are part of my Hard Trend Methodology as well.
Cyclical change is more or less a future certainty. The stock market is extremely cyclical; when things go down, they are sure to go back up. These are easy to understand and even easier to predict.
On the other hand, linear change only happens once and transforms the world in one direction. Identifying linear change is what my anticipatory mindset is all about, as it only occurs once, such as the creation of the smartphone that disrupted all other types of telecommunication.
When linear change becomes exponential, it is driven by technology, riding a curve that’s accelerating and predictable. Additionally, exponential linear change can impact and even alter old cycles, vitally connecting both types of change.
Be Human in a Digital World
We should strive to understand our place in a world with technology. Technology is not good or evil; it merely exists in a vacuum. How we as humans apply it defines the application of said technology.
One of the things that I’m urging people to do is to positively shape the future rather than passively receive it. Not only can you leverage exponential technological change to your advantage, but you can use it to better the human race.
By differentiating Hard Trends from Soft Trends, and learning how cyclical or linear changes apply, you can use my anticipatory mindset to be a positive disruptor, setting the bar for your industry for years to come.