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Flash foresight

One of the world’s leading business strategists and technology forecasters, Daniel Burrus, shares his insight into seven radical principles that can transform your business.

Imagine if you could predict the future and be right? What an advantage you’d have! Start with learning how to separate hard trends (things that will happen), from soft trends (things that might happen). Understanding this distinction reveals immediate certainty and a clear path forward in an increasingly uncertain world. Any strategy based on certainty, whether business or personal, has low risk and high reward – inside or outside of the office.

This is just the first of seven flash foresight ‘triggers’ which allow you to see invisible opportunities and move forward in new and innovative ways:

  • Start with certainty: Many people confuse cyclical change (the ups and downs of the stock market), with linear change (once you get a smart phone you will not go back to a normal phone), and don’t know how to distinguish hard trends (baby boomers are aging) from soft trends (there won’t be enough doctors to treat aging baby boomers). However, by distinguishing future fact from future maybe, you can make accurate predictions.
  • Anticipate: Based on the certainty of hard trends, ask yourself, “What are the problems I am about to have?” Then look for creative ways to solve those problems before they happen.
  • Transform: Transformation means doing something radically different. Using the hard trends, how do you expect your business or profession to transform in the next few years? Your answer will help you start crafting strategies to transform how you sell, market, communicate, collaborate and innovate.
  • Take your biggest problem and skip it: The key to unraveling your organisation’s most intractable problems often lies in recognising that the problem confronting you is not the real problem. The real problem lies hidden behind the distraction of what you think the problem is.
  • Go opposite: When searching for the real problem you want to address, it’s not always easy to know where to look. One way to help tease this insight to the surface is to note what everyone else is thinking and doing – and then look in the opposite direction.
  • Redefine and reinvent: Forget competing; instead, leapfrog the competition by redefining anything and everything about your business based on hard trends. Also, look for creative ways to make the mundane exceptional and transform the normal into the extraordinary.
  • Direct your future: This is the conscious exercise of using your creative capacity to envision and rewrite your future life and career that wraps all the other flash foresight principles together. You become what you dream; therefore, what are you dreaming?

Having accurate flashes of insight about the future is the key to successful innovation. By committing to these seven principles, you’ll keep your company and yourself ahead of the curve, so you can navigate a solution before the rest of the world even sees a problem coming.

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John Carroll - Helping businesses achieve International success. Head of Product Management & International Business, Santander UK