As we blog, we start developing the mental models, a unique vision for the road ahead. It is now time to start writing the first of what will be many drafts of what we see happening in the future, and the opportunities that will open up. Whether it is a one-pager or a longer essay or just a set of mindmaps, it is very important to build this vision document. It is needed both for consolidating our thinking and for getting feedback from others. It is not a question of being right or wrong at this time it is more important to have one’s own beliefs and perspectives on what one believes will happen, and the white spaces that are there.
It is now time to share these ideas with people. These could be friends, or they could be experts in the industry. While friends will most certainly agree to meet and provide inputs, it may be harder to get to the experts. But we should give it a try. This is where the credibility built up by the blog can be very useful. Another good way to make connections is to visit a trade show or conference. While there may be limited time for long conversations, we can use the occasion to make introductions and follow-up by email or phone. The point is that we need to schedule 1:1 interactions with people outside.
Typical meetings will be about an hour. It gives us sufficient time to present our ideas, get feedback, and debate the points raised. Like chess games, every meeting can take its own unique path. The point is that we need to ensure that we address each of the points raised by the person we are meeting. In some ways, the person on the other side is a reflector bouncing some of our ideas back at us. As we talk to others, our own thinking becomes sharper. After the meeting, spend some time going through the meeting again to make sure we addressed each of the points in the best way possible, and noting new ideas which came up in the process. This is the iterative path that will work in enriching our mental models and vision for tomorrow.
Another way to build on our starting thinking is to travel. I have found travelling internationally to be one of the best tonics for thinking and ideation. As we separate ourself from the regular environment and put ourselves into new scenarios even new countries we get opportunities not just to use a telescope to get the wide-angle view, but also a microscope to dig deeper. A couple of weeks of travel combined with meeting people in different lands can be one of the best tonics for thinking and imagining tomorrow.
There are two recently published books which can be helpful in the process of building mental models and seeing what’s next. We’ll discuss these next.
Tomorrow: Two Good Books