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Tales from the Unexpected Future
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Tales from the Unexpected Future

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Slides from my presentation on why we make bad forecasts, why the future is a social activity, and what we can do close the gap between what we think we know and what we actually know.

Slides from my presentation on why we make bad forecasts, why the future is a social activity, and what we can do close the gap between what we think we know and what we actually know.

Published in Business , Technology
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  • 1. TALES FROM THE UNEXPECTED FUTUREeric garland
  • 2. “The future will be better tomorrow.”- Dan QuayleFormerVice President of the United States
  • 3. The world isn’t a mess from what we don’t know,but from what we know for certain that just ain’t so.-Mark Twain
  • 4. There are things we know that we know...these are known knowns.There are the things we know that we don’t know...these are known unknowns.But then there are the things we don’t know that we don’t know...these are unknown unknowns.- Donald RumsfeldFormer U.S. Secretary of Defense
  • 5. We know where the weapons of mass destruction are.They are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad, east, west, south, and north somewhat.- Donald RumsfeldFormer U.S. Secretary of Defense
  • 6. STOCHASM:The difference between what youthink you know, and what youactually know.
  • 7. I think about the future a lotDo you seewhat I see?Housing bubble?What?
  • 8. Three big questions• What is our understanding of future riskand reward?• When and why do we fail?• What can we do today to improve ourperception?
  • 9. for today• A children’s treasury of bad forecasts• Epic fails: Market research• Epic fail: Risk estimation• How to improve our foresight(despite the risk)
  • 10. BAD FORECASTS
  • 11. “What, sir? You would make a ship sail against the wind andcurrents by lighting a bonfire under her decks?I pray you excuse me. I have no time to listen to such nonsense.”- Napoleon Bonaparte to Robert Fulton, upon hearing of the latters plans fora steam-powered engine.
  • 12. "It has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means ofcommunication. The device is inherently of no value to us."-- Western Union internal memo, 1876.
  • 13. “Remote shopping will flop.”-- Time Magazine, 1966
  • 14. "We dont like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out." --Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962
  • 15. “By the end of the century, we will live in a paperless society”Roger Smith, CEO of General Motors, 1986
  • 16. “This technology will lead to ubiquitous education and world peace!A whole bunch of people
  • 17. things we do to mess up forecasts• Overestimate technological advance• Underestimate technological advance• Right forecast, wrong timescale• Failure to comprehend social impact• Miss secondary and tertiary effects• Ignore intransigent human nature• Discount wildcard events• Missed assumptions about actorbehavior• Emotional attachment to the outcome
  • 18. WE reject the NEW, the important, the disruptiveand place it in the category of“ridiculous”
  • 19. Short list of ridiculous things• Women comfortable in the working world• A computer that fits in a single room• People being able to use computers at workwithout “training.”• The Japanese as serious industrial competitors• The Koreans as serious industrial competitors• The Chinese as serious industrial competitors
  • 20. ALMOST EVERYTHING IMPORTANTSTARTS OUT AS A FUTURE SO RIDICULOUSYou look dumb talking about it.
  • 21. GREAT MOMENTS in EPIC FAIL:MARKET RESEARCH division
  • 22. BETTY CROCKER
  • 23. DUNCAN HINES
  • 24. GUINNESS STOUT IN AFRICA
  • 25. GREAT MOMENTS in EPIC FAIL:risk analysis division
  • 26. The mortgage market
  • 27. The mortgage market
  • 28. Fukushima Nuclear power plant
  • 29. WE usemechanistic forecastingfor a complex world
  • 30. improving our perception offuture risk and reward
  • 31. the future is actually a group activity
  • 32. We rely on authority to tell us whichfutures are safe to discuss
  • 33. What does an authority look like?
  • 34. can you rely on this man’s forecasts?• 2005:We’re not in a housing bubble• 2007: Growth with limited risk• 2008: Unemployment will go down• 2009: It’s all good, dude!
  • 35. take a systems approachACTORDECISIONSTHE HUMOROF THE GODSSTRUCTURALFACTORS
  • 36. take a systems approachCustomersCommunitystakeholdersDisruptivetechnologiesToday’sCompetitorsThe environmentEconomictrendsPoliticsRegulators andgov’t agencies
  • 37. Rigor VISION
  • 38. What you can do starting today• Start tracking economic, technological and social trendsoutside of your industry• Hold active discussions with stakeholders about what it allmeans• Ask how customer needs will evolve from macro-trends• Tell your customers that you have their future in mind
  • 39. @ericgarlandEricGarlandFuturewww.ericgarland.coThank you so much!Merci Beaucoup!