How to forecast emerging technological tends.
Don’t confuse the trendy with trends, warns Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute. Unlike hip, shiny objects, trends persist and can change everything. They include self-driving cars, artificial intelligence, and other phenomena that will deeply affect our lives. “Too often,” writes the author, “leaders ignore the signals [of emerging trends], wait too long to take action, or plan for only one scenario.” In this useful guide, she offers a systematic way to interpret events and foresee how they will shape the future. In brief: watch fringe areas, where new ideas emerge; uncover hidden patterns; determine whether a pattern is a trend; calculate its arrival time; plan scenarios to act on the trend; test your scenarios. Her detailed explanation of these simple-seeming steps is based on many years of experience advising organizations and will undoubtedly help leaders contemplate what lies ahead. The author makes clear how difficult it is to recognize forthcoming changes in an era when change is commonplace. Also, we “tend to underplay the significance of something when it is not significant to our immediate frame of reference.” Companies like Nintendo have listened to the signals, adapted to change, and lasted since the late 1800s. Digital Equipment Corporation, once a leading vendor of computer systems, failed to anticipate personal computing, with disastrous results. Similarly, BlackBerry failed, its products eclipsed by new trends. Webb’s stories of these companies and her close examination of current trendiness help readers understand how certain fringe thinking is shaped by diverse external forces (wealth distribution, education, government, etc.) into genuine trends. “We know Uber represents a trend because it leverages our basic human needs and desires in a meaningful way and aligns our human nature with emerging technologies and breakthrough inventions,” she writes.
Webb provides a logical way to sift through today’s onslaught of events and information to spot coming changes in your corner of the world.