Predicting the future is, on the face of it, a mugs game. There is no guarantee of being right or even that being right is beneficial.
And yet, we do it all the time. When we create financial forecasts, estimate take-up of an offer, write a shopping list or propose marriage, we are betting on the future. Even if we decide to do nothing and delay a task, we are betting we have the time, inclination or ability to do it tomorrow.
Prediction is also futile because we could never calculate every eventuality, every permutation of cause and effect. The possibilities are far too great.
However, we have to have a plan, don’t we? We have to know what we want to happen in order to take the necessary actions to try and make sure it does: the investor wants to know their money is safe, the buyer needs to know how much stock to order, you want to know what to cook tomorrow, your fiancé wants to know you will live happily ever after.
We understand prediction if we understand there are no guarantees, we have done as much research as possible and our lives don’t depend on the result. This should lead to the best strategy, the best plan for implementation and a back up if the prediction falls short.
All this occurred while I was organising a conference for April called the Future of Work. The first thing I realised was that the title may be a little misleading because the future of work is already here: it is just waiting for us to catch up. And we will. We are creating the future now, as we assess and adopt the new technology and exploit new attitudes and new thinking that make life and work easier and better.
During the research for the event, I came across very different attitudes toward and predictions for the future: from no change (commercial property developers, HP and Yahoo) to complete change (Linda Grafton, Dave Coplin, etc). This effectively means there is no definitive prediction, just a range of ideas up for discussion, which is exactly what I wanted for the conference.
I am looking forward to hearing ideas from the experts about how their clients are working as well as from delegates about how they work or want to work. I hope people will get involved in the discussion, both before and after. This would be the best kind of prediction, where no guess work is involved: just evolutionary changes towards a better future.