The Future cannot be Predicted: It can be Objectively Studied


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Presentation by Harish Shah on the occasion of International Future Day Conference, India

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The Future cannot be Predicted: It can be Objectively Studied

  1. 1. THE FUTURE CANNOT BE PREDICTED: IT CAN BE OBJECTIVELY STUDIED Harish Shah (Sole-Proprietor @ Stratserv Consultancy, Singapore)
  2. 2. DYNAMISM OF FUTURE TIME • You cannot tell what tomorrow will bring • There are no guarantees • Impossible to create an accurate image of what is yet to occur • The possibilities are infinite • Plans can always be impacted by unknowns • The Future is always a mystery until it arrives
  3. 3. IMPORTANCE OF FUTURE STUDIES • Despite being unpredictable, the Future needs to be anticipated • We need to plan for the Future • We need Long-term Projections & Forecasts • To set Goals • To set Standards • To set Milestones • For Progress • For Survival
  4. 4. STUDYING THE FUTURE: OBJECTIVELY • Scenario Planning • Based upon what is known • Based upon certainties • Based upon the past • Look to the Past • For the secrets of the Future • Ask: • What happened in history? • What are the historical patterns? • Derive Possibilities based on past Trends & patterns • Create Forward Sequences based on Past Sequences
  5. 5. STUDYING THE FUTURE: OBJECTIVELY • Scenario Planning • Based upon the Present • Based upon what is real now • Based upon what is happening • Based upon what is in development • Based upon changes that are in progress • Likely impacts in the Future • In Convergence • Technology • Society • People
  6. 6. STUDYING THE FUTURE: OBJECTIVELY • Evidence Based • Scientific Basis is necessary • If there is no indicator that something is Scientifically Possible today, it should not be a factor for forecasting or projection • Anything unproven or without Scientific Basis is unlikely to provide a useful product • On the contrary, it will likely turn out to be a speculation no more than a; • Fantasy • Imagination • Dream • Remember the Primary Purpose: To be useful in Planning
  7. 7. CREATING THE MOST LIKELY FUTURE: THE IMPORTANCE • Back-Casting • From an Ideal Future State • At a Critical or Key Milestone Point in Time Ahead • Based on Realistic Possibilities • Derived from evidence based study or scan of Past & Present • To more near-term time-frames or timelines for: • Planning • Target Setting • “Reverse Engineering” • Ideas • Innovation Thinking • Models
  8. 8. FUTURE STUDIES: THE BENEFITS • Be Prepared for Change – Before it happens • Accelerate the Positive • Mitigate the Negative – Through Pre-emptive Measures • Example: Environmental Destruction • Enable Pro-active Measures • Sustainable Plans & Strategies • That remain relevant
  9. 9. FUTURE STUDIES: THE CHALLENGES • Human Nature • • • • • • • • • • We We We We We We We We We We are not rational are not objective are prone to bias are idealistic are selfish are subjective are myopic are adversarial are prone to denial like to Predict and Speculate
  10. 10. THANK YOU