As we look ahead, it is useful to keep some pointers in mind. Predicting the future is very difficult. I am not talking here about trying to predict what will happen. Instead, I am suggesting that we envision the future and actually go about building it out. There is a big difference between the two approaches. Let me explain.
Making predictions is what the likes of astrologers do. It is also what analysts in research firms do. They take today’s trends and make forecasts of what is likely to happen in the next few years. They are, however, not active participants in creating that future. Their customers are.
Entrepreneurs and Innovators work on building the future. They imagine tomorrow’s world. And then, they work backwards to architect events in a certain way that the endgame is the one they have thought about. Not all entrepreneurs and innovators succeed in fact, most fail. I am not talking of naturally embracing failure. I am suggesting that if done right and if the actions are based on a solid understanding of tomorrow’s world, there is a good chance that the entrepreneurs and innovators can succeed.
What is needed is not just a vision for tomorrow’s world, but also a dynamic set of mental models which can self-correct the path to the future based on events as they happen. Many times, we fixate ourselves on a vision, and get blindsided by developments in other areas. At other times, we assume certain events will occur, and if they don’t happen or get delayed, then our plans go in a tizzy. In the world of today which is seeing silos between industries breaking, it is very important to have a constant feedback mechanism much like an aircraft’s fly-by-wire system. The destination is known, but the objective is also to ensure a smooth ride and not knowingly attempt flying through turbulence!
In this world, the strategy for entrepreneurs and innovators is two-fold: to build enough competencies within, and also to leverage the strength of others. Just as growing children use the strengths of adults around them to accomplish their tasks until they are big enough to manage on their own, growing companies need to be smart to rely on the ecosystem of companies around them to make the dice fall right for them.
The stakes are high, and the rewards immense. Every decade sees a few giants emerge in the corporate world. Every new trend disrupts some and creates opportunities for others. In the same way, the road to building tomorrow’s world will also create some big winners. The ones who succeed will be those who combine creation with aggregation, strategy with execution, and technology with tactics. Ready for the ride?
Next Week: Tomorrows World (continued)