madmax2Every generation has had its vision of the future as well as concerns for what is to come.  Whether it is an apocalyptic vision such as Planet of the Apes (1968), Mad Max(1979) or The Walking Dead (2010) or a technologically advanced space-age world of The Jetsons (1962-63/1984-87) every generation has its own concerns about what the future holds. From political and economic concerns to worries much more personal about family stability and health issues to grandiose visions of a future so bright Ray Bans are a requirement, the future is always looming both right around the corner and far off in the, well, future.  It seems the most recent generations vision of the future revolves around Superstorms based on a crop of really horrible movies over that last 1o years or so.

In the next 40 years the world’s population is expected to grow from 7 billion to as high as 10 billion people. What will this mean for sustainable food sources, renewable energy, disease control, technology, waste management, the environment, economic growth and social systems. Here are some things that The Jetsons correctly predicted: Flat screen TVs, video calls, flying cars(?), tanning beds, talking alarm clocks, space travel, household robots, human cloning, and interactive news (George’s Televiewer is similar to iPad apps such as Flipboard). I dare say that is a pretty good track record as far as prognostications go.  And believe it or not the way they received their food on The Jetsons may not be too far off with the invention of the 3D printer and printable food.

I found this bizarre (artsy) video and related article based on one designers vision of food and I also found this gem of article describing GM’s vision of the future from the 1940’s. The point is we predict the future all the time. Only time reveals if we are correct or not. However, in Business I believe there are some steps we can take to peer into the future. If people believe we can see around the corner how much likely are they to follow our lead, become our customer, seek out our consultation, or invest in our project.

While the future can be unpredictable unless you happen to be friends with Doc Brown and own a Delorean here are some tips that can help you lead your business to be better prepared for the future:

1. Watch, Listen, Learn!

Become a student of people. If you can learn to gauge peoples reactions to certain situations, if you can learn to read peoples non-verbal cues, you can begin to predict behavior. And if you can predict behavior you can in some order know the future.

2. Learn What Makes People Tick.

When you discover peoples motivations you have a lot of insight into the future.

3. Learn the Tricks of the Trade.

Depending on your line of work, learn the productivity hacks, negotiation tactics, cutting edge developments, study the trends and while you can’t truly know the future you will be so far out ahead of everyone else they will see you as a futurist.

4. Learn to Connect the Dots

If you can hone your skills at making connections and linking ideas and trends to get a read on where your industry is going, what problems your customers are going to have around the corner,  possible shortage or bottlenecks down the road in a your own supply chain or that of a customer or even competitor, you will reach wizard status in, and possibly beyond, your field.

5. Learn from the Past

Learn from the mistakes of the past,  both your own and others. Learn from your successes as well, don’t be shy about building momentum and leveraging past success to generate more. Capitalize on it rather than hang on to it in vault somewhere like a trophy.

6. Learn to Read the Road Signs.

They are there and they clearly tell you whats ahead. There is no trick here, it’s just that so many people are working with their head down buried under a stack of TPS reports, to-do lists, emails or memos that they never get their eyes far enough above the steering wheel to see what’s right in front of them.

7. Take Intentional Risks

When you can not predict the future take the necessary steps to change the future, lead into the future. I firmly believe that Status Quo is a serial killer. If you aren’t moving forward — you’re moving backwards.

Hoepfully with these insights you can work to become like Carnac the Magnificent.

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