The Future Will Be Weird

Those Who Know The Future Can Control It

One of the models that we use in our futurist sessions is known as the second curve. A simple model, it assumes that there are cycles to everything – and everything that is being done today will wane, and something else will take its place. Change is the only constant in life and the universe and everything. These cycles may be long, or they may be short, but the key takeaway here is that they will always happen.

They are inevitable. No matter what you are doing today, it will be replaced by something else tomorrow.

The only questions are – what will replace it and when will it happen. Give something a long enough timeframe and it will go from nothing, to a market of varying size, to nothing again. This happens in every industry, most technologies, and most products.

For an example, look at the progression of recorded entertainment – from phonographs to tapes to compact discs (the first wave of digitization) to MP3 files, to streaming. It may have taken 50 years, but every successive curve downward has an analogous upward curve, where the next set of technology or products have replaced the older set.

Even though some people have gone back to turntables, many of us entertain ourselves through some streaming service. This is but one example – everything changes – everything goes through these down to up cycles, and the trick is to know when to leap to the next up cycle, to know when to go from CDs to MP3s, or from downloads to streams.

However, if you are not ready to leap at the right moment, or only slightly before or after, then you may lose everything forever. We are in a new age, where there is very little loyalty from the consumer, other than to the best deal, and we will not only be competing with others in our spaces, we will also be fighting for position with intelligent agents as well as human customers.

If everything is changing, and will change, how do you deal with the change? How can you anticipate the changes, prepare for the changes, and be ready to make the leap when the time comes?

You must think further out, must develop not only strategic plans and roadmaps for the next few quarters, but you must also be prepared with scenarios for the next 2-5 years and beyond.

These possible futures can help you to prepare for the next decision point, to map out and alert you to the next intersection where you need to make the leap to the next upward curve.

Additionally, these aspirational roadmaps can not only prepare you for the future of your market, they can be a great tool to channel your innovation efforts.

If we can assume that everything will change, then we can proactively anticipate that change, discover that future, develop innovations, and act at just the right moment. These roadmaps allow us to control our future, as opposed to allowing the future to control us.