We all have an idea of how the future will unfold that determines, in large part, the decisions we make. Unfortunately for most people, and companies, the way we come to our future visions is ad-hoc, idiosyncratic and ill-formed. Our biases and beliefs influence out views.
This is becoming an issue for corporations who need to have a view of the future they can rely on. A view that is unbiased, precise and insightful while at the same time being probabilistic and highly contingent on complex events that may or may not occur.
Clearly identifying trends is a good place to start. As this article points out, not all trends are the same. The author makes the distinction between hard-trends, ones that will happen that cannot be changed, and soft-trends, a projection based on statistics that have the appearance of being tangible, fully predictable facts.
While this distinction is important, it is not the only distinction that needs to be considered. Another distinction is between consensus trends, those that everyone agrees on, and weak-signal trends, those that not everyone sees because they are hard to spot.
Putting these details aside, the main point of the article is very relevant. In today’s world, being anticipatory is important and one of the main tools a company (or person) has at their disposal is the ability to do futuring – creating visions of the future that are unbiased, relevant and insightful.