Updated: Apr 7
The future is an ever-changing landscape, one that is constantly shifting and evolving. To be successful in this dynamic environment, it is imperative to possess the ability to see beyond the present and envision possibilities that are not yet obvious to others. Those who can do so are the ones who will shape the future.
Why Foresight is Critical in a World of Uncertainty
As John Sculley, former CEO of Apple, once said, "The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious." This statement highlights the importance of having foresight and vision in shaping the future, especially in a world of uncertainty. Those who possess this foresight are the ones who will be best positioned to succeed in the future.
"The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious." - John Scully
Unlocking the Future Through Vision
To unlock the future, you have to be willing (or able) to see beyond the present and envision possibilities that others may not yet see. This requires creativity, openness to new ideas, and a willingness to take risks. By doing so, you will be able to shape the future in ways that others never thought possible.
For example, by studying scientific studies about communication, you can easily see that information overload presents very serious challenges to conventional sales-messaging and training strategies. Knowing this, investing time to explore new approaches would put you in a position to get ahead of the pack.
Adapting to the Shifting Tides of the Future
In the business world, the ability to adapt to the shifting tides of the future is critical to success. Those who can anticipate changes in the market and adapt to them are the ones who will thrive. By having foresight and vision, you can position yourself to adapt and succeed in the ever-changing landscape of the future.
If you are like most people in the business world, you've been taught to examine problems through analysis which is a process of understanding something by breaking it down into its component parts. There is an alternative - its call synthesis. What does that mean? According to the design thinking methodology developed by the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University, synthesis is defined as "the process of bringing together multiple, diverse perspectives to build empathy, generate insights, and reframe problem statements in human-centered ways."
Who thinks that's powerful? Albert Einstein credits his daydreaming, and thought experiments for is ability to see what was possible.
"The art of synthesis is the ability to combine seemingly disparate ideas into a coherent whole." - Albert Einstein
While the people around look for the answer in the sand, you can be developing a new set of lenses to look up, observe what's happening, and be able to anticipate what's coming.
Five Steps to Start Developing Your Skills to Synthesize Information
Tired of having your head in the sand but don't know how to get started looking at the whole, rather than the parts? Here are five incredibly simple things you can do, but you will need a training partner to do them.
Describe experiences: Those moments where you get an idea or solution to a problem - practice describing them so you can convey your idea effectively. It's harder than it sounds.
Be an "English to English" translator: You've seen situations where two people argue about different interpretations of the same word. For example, marketers and trainers using the word "content." Understanding how different people and professions use words and concepts expands your ability to connect the dots.
Use analogies: An analogy is like a key that unlocks a door to a new room. Just as a key opens up new spaces, an analogy opens up new ways of understanding something. Making your own analogies and getting them to land with others helps you connect more dots.
Draw it: Synthesis involves bringing different ideas together into a cohesive whole. Take sheets of paper and draw what you see, make word puzzles for yourself, and organize concepts in different combinations. It takes practice. Try drawing the concept of possibility right now. It's not easy, but practicing helps you envision what's possible and develop foresight.
Iterate: Synthesis is an iterative process, so you may need to refine and revise your ideas multiple times before arriving at a final solution. If you are wired for analysis and impatience, you may struggle here. Developing the ability to connect the dots takes time, but your brain is powerful, and you can do it.
Synthesis is the Key to Unlocking the Power of Foresight
Did you see what we did there? Once you start developing the ability to anticipate, you need to keep practicing because the skills to see what's going to happen require ongoing application.
Looking at the parts is easy. You know how to do it, your peers know how to do it, and most of the content you will have access to reinforces it. It takes discipline and practice to connect the dots and see the bigger picture. The steps above sound so incredibly simple its very easy to overlook them - don't. Success is simple. Simple is hard. Pick just one of the steps and commit yourself to work on it about 20 minutes a day for three weeks (takes about 21 days to develop a habit) before you start noticing differences. Call it synthesis or being holistic, developing your own lens of foresight is a journey but you can get started simply by by committing to yourself to get your head out of the sand and look at the world around you.