• © 2019 Bob Treadway 0


Seeing Around Corners: Future-Proofing Your Business in Uncertainty

Thanks for attending my presentation at ASFMRA's conference "The Future is Now." Here are a few of my points and a following set of visuals from the presentation.

If you're going to be successful looking into the future I advise avoiding prediction and instead forecasting. A forecast is a look into the future taking uncertainty into account and adjusting that forecast in the face of time and new information.

I showed my model of how to look into the future using a "Cone of Relative Certainty" that's populated by trends, trigger events, driving forces, and other future factors.

I recommend three ongoing principles:

  • Make it a habit. Engage in ongoing scanning. Cause your unconscious or subconscious mind to recognize signals of the future.
  • Use the combined mind-power of teams.
  • Be open-minded. Change your mind in the face of new information.

We looked at a model of technology forecasting, evaluation, and adoption from one of my clients, ExxonMobil. I brought the approach down to found general functions: Scanning, Strategizing, Evaluating, and Incubating-Integrating. We followed that model through the presentation. Image below.


  • Three scanning resources are available below.
  • I highly recommend that watching for signals of the future, especially including emergint technology is an ongoing process.

Anticipation Techniques - I showed the table of four foresight techniques. That table is below.

I recommended setting or reviewing strategy before selecting technology. An important question is the organization's appetite for adoption and I showed the five typical categories.

Evaluation - I showed two tools in this area. My own recommendations for up to a six-factor set of criteria. Another is the Gartner "hype curve" as a provoker of thought on when new technologies will be available or in the field. The evaluation factors are illustrated below.

Incubation and Integration - I spent a few minutes in this area to encourage you to develop your own technology experts on staff. They will tend to be younger. I made specific recommendations about the attributes of those people who will be key team members.

My close used the example of Charles Kettering, one of my personal heroes for his innovation, foresight, and pithy quotes.

Here are the three scanning recommendations I made with links to each.
Morning Brew - my favorite daily scanning summary. Free.
Emerging Tech Brew - from the same folks but with a tech focus. Also free.
Quartz - an excellent daily global news summary curated by experienced editors. Free.

You may also be interested in reading my article for Ag Professional that was published in October. That article is here.
Don't predict. Instead forecast. Foresight that takes uncertainty into account and changes with time and new information.
Paul Saffo, Futurist
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A clear path is not a short distance.
Paul Saffo, Futurist
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My interest is in the future because I'm going to spend the rest of my life there.
Charles Kettering, innovator and inventor