We are all forecasters. Every decision we make relates to the future in some way. Decisions made in the present are shaped by what we believe or hope the future holds. To this extent, the deliberations of today are intimately tied to our thoughts of tomorrow. That is from “Thinking the Future: New perspectives from the shoulders of giants”.
How do you know
The book asks the question. How do you know if you’re thinking about the future well? There are a number of elements:
- Mindset (fox vs hedgehog)
- Accounting for the complexity and unpredictability of the world
- Bread focus
- Not looking for single answers
- Pattern recognition
- Question assumptions
- Do not take your knowledge for granted
- Process (thinking about thinking)
- Take a stoic approach
- Accept inconvenient truths
The essence of thinking about the future is understanding the pattern of forces propelling the present into the future and seeing where those forces can lead. Your ability to adapt and revise your plans if circumstances change. To accept that even the best-laid plans go awry. To understand that we live in a complex system where the flapping of a butterfly’s wings can, with a single beat, change the game in the universe at large.
Monkeys throwing darts
There is a problem with forecasting. We might as well trust our predictions to dart-throwing chimpanzees. Tetlock, the founder of the decision lab, studied over 82 000 forecasts over two decades to reach this conclusion. Forecasting is a bit like Storage Wars, an American reality TV show about auctioning off storage lockers where the owners have stopped paying rent.
Doubt is good
One reason is that expertise gets in the way. Fixed thinking. However, the future is driven by the principle of uncertainty. Doubt is good. Through doubt, you can balance perspectives, test multiple theories, expose fault lines in their reasoning and revise…