So, how does one go about building a vision of tomorrows world? Here are some things that Ive found useful over the years:
Read Widely: I think reading broadly is very important. Ive found ideas and insights coming from the unlikeliest of reading material. Books, magazines and blogs can all be good fodder for the mind. Very often, I find people limiting what they read based on their interests. This is not a good idea. It tends to narrow ones outlook.
Talk to People: Talking to others is a very good way to building out a vision of tomorrow. One needs to have a base set of ideas for discussion. Beyond that, finding what different people react to and how can help sharpen the vision. There isnt much to worry about other people copying ones ideas. If it is that simple, then one better be thinking something different! Talking to people also helps distill out the message much better rather than playing around with it in ones own mind.
Write a Blog: Writing is another way to share and get feedback. In the nearly five years that Ive been writing the blog, I have found very good insights coming from people. Blogging also forces a discipline of reading and getting the key message out to people.
Deep Think: Thinking is easier said than done. To think means to be able to drill deep down and figure out from first principles the key tenets of the vision. This requires going beyond the superficial and in our world of interruptions, this can be hard to do. Some of my best thinking happens when I am traveling especially in flights.
Learn from History: One can learn a lot from previous case studies of successes and failures. Just because something failed earlier doesnt mean it is likely to always fail the idea may have been ahead of its time. Also, learning from different disciplines can be quite helpful in building out the vision.
Use New Technology: One has to experiment and try out new technologies early. This gives a glimpse of tomorrows world. There will be some pain and even some glitches. But the trajectory of innovation will ensure that things become faster, better and cheaper. That future world is what one has to build for.
Travel: Going to different places is a great way to learn. Free from the physical limitations of the office, the mind starts to wander free. Seeing how people do things in other places and putting oneself in different scenarios can be very educative.
Iterate: Finally, one has to experiment and iterate through with new ideas. Think of these as stepping stones along the path. One must not be afraid of failure. Feedback from the real world should help in fine-tuning the vision.
As we look ahead, we need to build the world of tomorrow. We must not be afraid to think and dream big. In doing so, vision will play a key role as entrepreneurs seek to construct the future. Will combined with vision can make all the difference.