By Mike Schmidt, AEM Industry Advisor Editor
If no one person truly knows what the future holds, why try to predict what tomorrow will bring?
Its a reasonable question. Human nature causes society to feature what cant be controlled and be distrustful of what cant be influenced. And yet the long-term success of companies and organizations is reliant on whatll happen next week, next month, and in the years and decades to follow. Organizational leaders assume the responsibility of investing time, energy and resources in planning for the future and anticipating whats to come. And while they dont know exactly whats around the bend, the task of predicting the future ultimately allows those tasked with doing it to determine where a company is, where it wants to go and perhaps most importantly how itll reach its desired destination.
The first tip for thinking like a futurist is not to be afraid of the future, said Sheryl Connelly, who has been employed in such a role for the Ford Motor Company for nearly 16 years.
Connelly shared her insights on what it takes for organizational leaders to think like a futurist, and how doing so can help organizations of all types and sizes attain long-term goals and achieve sustained success at AEMs most recent Annual Conference. And, according to Connelly, while the vast majority of organizational leaders are adept at many aspects of shaping the future of their respective companies, many often overlook a critical strategic component: anticipating the environment in which an established plan must be executed.
Thats invariably where things fall apart, said Connelly. You encounter things outside your control and influence, and it throws your plans off track.
In order to plan for (and, with some degree of accuracy, predict) the future, organizational leaders must take it upon themselves to think like a futurist. And, according to Connelly, they can do so by following 5 steps, the first of which as previously noted is:
Not everything can be controlled or influenced, and organizational leaders must recognize this fact. More importantly, however, they must embrace it. Because if they dont, any effort to try and think like a futurist will fail before it ever really gets under way.
A commonly used business strategy tool, the SWOT analysis calls for companies to identify their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Ultimately, its designed to helps organizational leaders more accurately answer questions such as What do we do well? and How do we continue to leverage our strengths as an organization?
Unfortunately, said Connelly, conducting a SWOT analysis often leads to organizational navel-gazing.
The focus (of a SWOT analysis) is very internal, she continued. And it blinds you to the facts changing outside of your industry, outside of your company and outside of the competitive ranks and these are the things that will catch you off-guard.
Organizational leaders who are uncertain about what the future holds often consult the past in an attempt to find answers. Its no surprise why. Sophisticated modeling has been developed to allow companies to determine the trajectory of their sales rate, where market share is headed, what interest rates or financing terms will look like in the future, and much more.
The common thread? All of it is based on historical data. That said Connelly is a problem.
Relying on historical data is a bit like using your rearview mirror to guide your drive down the highway, she continued. And looking to the past will always keep you vulnerable to the future.
And at the end of the day, thats really the goal of a futurist, said Connelly.
While accurately predicting the future is no small task, its something everyone does on a fairly regularly basis in both big and small ways.
For instance, when you get married, you assume its going to be for your lifetime, said Connelly. When you make an investment, you assume it will pay off in the long run. Where it gets problematic, though, it when we tend to think the things that made us most successful will guarantee our success moving forward. A big part of being provocative is challenging the status quo, and a great place to start is talking about wildcard events.
What makes a wildcard event? It must have a low probability of occurrence, but also a high probability of transforming the human condition. A prime example is natural disasters, but wildcard events can also be positive: the advent of the Internet, the proliferation of mobile technology, or decoding the sequence of the human genome.
All were one-in-a-million occurrences. All challenged the status quo. All fundamentally reshaped the world.
And all were wildcard events the marketplace is still trying to unravel and understand the true implications on society, said Connelly.
Its one thing to try and predict what tomorrow will bring. Convincing others to buy into your vision for the future is something else entirely, and it starts with being plausible.
According to the longtime Ford futurist, being plausible means examining the trends poised to shape the world for the next two, three or four decades to come. Trends put pressure on whats to come, and they occur in a variety of arenas social, technological, economic, environmental and political. More than anything else, though, trends have a transformative impact on societal values.
If you want to bring people along for the journey, you have to be logical, said Connelly. You have to be transparent. And you have to back up your reasoning so people can follow where you're going.
Looking for more information about the latest trends and technologies impacting the manufacturing industry. Visitwww.aem.org/thinkandsubscribetothe AEM Industry Advisor.
- 'Where Do We Go from Here?': On the Future of Arab Futurism - Palestine Chronicle - March 9th, 2020
- Scientists Say Ancient Earth Was Completely Covered in Water - Futurism - March 9th, 2020
- CRISPR Scientists Hack Patient's Genes in Bid to Cure Blindness - Futurism - March 9th, 2020
- Q&A: James Hamblin, MD on Why You're Likely to Get the Coronavirus - Futurism - March 9th, 2020
- Elon Musk: New Self-Driving Features Will Come Out This Month - Futurism - March 9th, 2020
- New Theory Could Explain Exoplanets With "Density of Cotton Candy" - Futurism - March 9th, 2020
- Anti-Coke Lawsuit: "Plastic Is Set to Outweigh Fish in the Ocean" - Futurism - March 9th, 2020
- The importance of lifelong learning in the future of work - Fast Company - March 9th, 2020
- This Futuristic Tire Concept Regrows Its Tread by Popping a Pill - Futurism - March 9th, 2020
- Economist: Springfield is 'on the cusp.' Here's what it needs to do to take the next step. - News-Leader - February 27th, 2020
- Here's a Glossary for the Ongoing Coronavirus Outbreak's Vocab - Futurism - February 27th, 2020
- Humanitys media habits shifted radically in the 2010s. What do the 2020s hold? - Digital Trends - February 27th, 2020
- Space Force Working "Pretty Closely With Elon Musk and SpaceX" - Futurism - February 27th, 2020
- The Pentagon Just Simulated a Nuclear War With Russia - Futurism - February 27th, 2020
- Deadly Coronavirus May Be Spreading Through Poop - Futurism - February 27th, 2020
- Japan Gives the 'Go' to Sample Return Mission to Mars Moon - Futurism - February 27th, 2020
- Carmakers Expected to Roll Out Wireless Car Chargers This Year - Futurism - February 27th, 2020
- Artificial and Biological Neurons Just Talked Over the Internet - Futurism - February 27th, 2020
- Editors letter: How to predict whats coming in 2030 and beyond - MIT Technology Review - February 27th, 2020
- What in Tarnation Is This "SpaceX Village" by the Starship Launch Site - Futurism - February 27th, 2020
- Guy Builds Rocket to Prove Earth Is Flat, Crashes It, Dies - Futurism - February 27th, 2020
- Report: Two-Thirds of Coronavirus Infections May Be Undetected - Futurism - February 27th, 2020
- The professionals who predict the future for a living - MIT Technology Review - February 27th, 2020
- Futurist Ray Kurzweil Says He Can Bring His Dead Father ... - February 12th, 2020
- What Does The Future Of Human Resources Look Like? | Inc.com - February 12th, 2020
- What is Futurism? Italy's Art Movement that Love Speed and Technology - My Modern Met - February 12th, 2020
- NASA Snaps Photo of Epic Dust Devil on the Surface of Mars - Futurism - February 12th, 2020
- App Checks Whether You've Come in Contact With Deadly Coronavirus - Futurism - February 12th, 2020
- Watch a Mother Reunite With Her Deceased Child in VR - Futurism - February 12th, 2020
- Plans Are Moving Ahead to Open a Space Hotel Attached to the ISS - Futurism - February 12th, 2020
- NASA: Next Moon Landing Will Cost About $35 Billion - Futurism - February 12th, 2020
- Jordan Brand Continues To Infuse Futurism With The Meta-Morph Utility - Sneaker News - February 12th, 2020
- Watch a Cybertruck Replace the DeLorean in "Back to the Future" - Futurism - February 12th, 2020
- Iran Tries to Pass Off $20 Walmart Costume as Space Suit - Futurism - February 12th, 2020
- University Chancellor Predicts "Higher Forms of Life" on Europa - Futurism - February 12th, 2020
- UN Secretary-General: "A Wind of Madness Is Sweeping the Globe" - Futurism - February 12th, 2020
- LET'S TALK: You, me and the ex-royals won't enjoy any privacy - Arkansas Online - January 27th, 2020
- Inside Dubai's Quest to be the First Blockchain-Powered City - Futurism - January 25th, 2020
- Sharks Are Evolving to Walk on Land - Futurism - January 25th, 2020
- Predictions for the 2020s, From a Futurist, a Trend Forecaster and an Astrologer - Vogue - January 18th, 2020
- Tullio Crali: A Futurist Life review a head-on revelation - The Guardian - January 18th, 2020
- Meet the futurist with 2020 vision - Sydney Morning Herald - January 18th, 2020
- These Researchers Want You to Live In a Fungus Megastructure - Futurism - January 18th, 2020
- Scientists Create "Living Concrete" That Can Heal Itself - Futurism - January 18th, 2020
- Scientists: Ocean Warming at the Rate of Five A-Bombs per Second - Futurism - January 18th, 2020
- 2020 Real Estate Newsmakers: The Achievers and the Futurists - RisMedia.com - January 18th, 2020
- The Roots Young Futurists 2020: Nominate the Leaders Who Are Ready to Change the World - The Root - January 18th, 2020
- MIT Suspends Another Professor for Epstein Ties - Futurism - January 18th, 2020
- Fossil fuel issues, nanobots, and the end of work as we know it - Kemmerer Gazette - January 18th, 2020
- Trump Demands That Apple Give Government Access to iPhones - Futurism - January 18th, 2020
- SpaceX Is Delivering Cannabis to the Space Station - Futurism - December 13th, 2019
- Elon Musk Is Talking About Powering All of America with Solar - Futurism - December 13th, 2019
- Middle Eastern Nation First to Buy Drone Armed With Machine Gun - Futurism - December 13th, 2019
- Virgil Abloh Merges Fashion and Futurism with the Louis Vuitton Men's 2054 Collection - Ocean Drive Magazine - December 13th, 2019
- Watch Terrifying Creeps Hack Ring Cameras and Spy on Families - Futurism - December 13th, 2019
- Study: Many Extreme Weather Events Were Caused by Climate Change - Futurism - December 13th, 2019
- End of the world: This futurist has some grim news for the middle class - MarketWatch - December 9th, 2019
- Futurist Predicts "The End of the World as We Know It" - Futurism - December 9th, 2019
- Avoiding the 'Robocalypse' - CFO Magazine - December 9th, 2019
- Blockland Solutions Conference is underway at the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland - Crain's Cleveland Business - December 9th, 2019
- Its 2071, and We Have Bioengineered Our Own Extinction - The New York Times - December 9th, 2019
- Young Bomberg and the Old Masters at the National Gallery: the Renaissance influences on an East End radical - inews - December 9th, 2019
- Futurist, Cathy Hackl, Named Top Voice in Tech by LinkedIn for 2nd Year in a Row - PRNewswire - December 6th, 2019
- Futurist sees the end of the world as we know it for average person - Haaretz - December 6th, 2019
- SpaceX Is Sending Super-Muscular Mice to the Space Station - Futurism - December 6th, 2019
- 19 Newly Discovered Galaxies Appear to Be Missing Dark Matter - Futurism - December 6th, 2019
- Interview: Shaping the future - The Actuary - December 6th, 2019
- 'The Future of X' Turns to Collaboration in the Workplace. Tune In - OZY - December 6th, 2019
- The inspirations of Shafi Ahmed surgeon, teacher and futurist - Director magazine - November 30th, 2019
- New Zealand Opens World's First HIV-Positive Sperm Bank - Futurism - November 30th, 2019
- Dubai is Adding Tesla Cybertrucks to its Police Car Fleet - Futurism - November 30th, 2019
- New Calculations: Black Holes Could Have Thousands of Planets - Futurism - November 30th, 2019
- Web Inventor Unveils Plan to Save the Web - Futurism - November 30th, 2019
- Can a computer have intuition? - Verizon Communications - November 30th, 2019
- Things to Do in DC This Weekend: A Jane Goodall Exhibit, Holiday Markets, and a Massive Maze at Nats Park - Washingtonian - November 23rd, 2019
- Futurist: Channel Has To Remove Friction To Cloud 2.0 Adoption - CRN: The Biggest Tech News For Partners And The IT Channel - October 28th, 2019
- MSPs Will Help Enable The 'Virtualization Of The World,' Says Futurist - CRN: The Biggest Tech News For Partners And The IT Channel - October 28th, 2019
- Tech and futurism drive iconic car event's appeal - The Japan Times - October 28th, 2019
- This Electric Toothbrush Uses AI Because Nothing is Sacred Anymore - Futurism - October 28th, 2019
- This Rocky World With Three Suns May Have an Atmosphere - Futurism - October 28th, 2019