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Anticipatory Organizations Know the Future, and So Can You


f you could learn a business method that let you know the future with greater certainty, would you be

interested? We’re not talking about the kind of predictive analysis that sounds more like fortune telling by your local psychic with the carnival images on the hand-painted sign out front. If certainty about the future in-

terests you, consider Te Anticipatory Organization by Daniel Burrus. Burrus’ approach is valuable because of his analysis of hard and soft trends. Since Burrus assumes exponential change is already at work in your industry, he explains why we need to be looking past the usually frenetic pres- ent and into the future. Agility is about the present, and it

context of unstoppable exponential technological change, Burrus argues that his anticipatory method, properly applied, will allow a greater degree pre- dictability than you’ve ever had before. Does he make his case? Te short

answer is yes. Burrus makes it clear from the begin- ning that he is challenging an existing mindset. Death and taxes are not the only two certainties. Another certainty

“Our futureview determines how we will live today, and who we will be in the future (a place we will all be spending a lot of time.”

is, emphatically, not enough. Agil- ity is reactive, and the anticipatory organization must be proactive. To be proactively looking at the future, you must know how to analyze the right data, the right way. We’re talking about knowing the

future based on reason and data. Tat’s the purpose of this book.

Burrus offers new lenses through which to see the future of your busi- ness, with certainty. Tat’s a brash assertion, considering that uncertainty has been lurking around every corner for companies big and small for at least the past decade. Burrus, a technological futurist, has

worked with large companies, including Microsoft, GE, Deloitte, IBM, Exxon- Mobil, and Visa. In the interest of full disclosure, I have read Burrus’s TECH- NOTRENDS newsletter for years, and almost always found it valuable. From the first pages, this book reso- nates of other futuristic analysts, such as Ray Kurzweil, Salim Ismail, and other high-profile technology futurists. Since the book is written in the

is the speed of change, also known as exponential change. Companies that fail to intentionally plan with an eye on exponential technological change will find their planning will fail them. At the heart of the anticipa-

tory method are hard trends that will happen, and soft trends that might happen. Te three categories of hard trends are technology, demographics, and government regulation. Technol- ogy is going to continue developing at full throttle, the 78 million Baby Boomers will keep aging, and gov- ernment regulations will continue expanding. Because of these inescapable hard

trends in technology, demograph- ics, and government, no industry will remain static.

Tink about what mobile phones

were like 15 years ago. Now look at the super-charged computer in your hand you call your cell phone. Tat’s the exponential growth of the hard technology trend, and that trend is going faster and faster. We know that exponential growth is certain. Soft trends are trends that might

happen. Burrus cites Facebook, which is the dominant platform now, but wasn’t always, and could be knocked from its perch by a rival platform. So- cial media and its uses might be a hard trend, but within the category, what’s hot, like Facebook, is a soft trend. You must learn to tell the difference between hard and soft trends. Te book is clear and direct, but the mindfulness of the writing is not as exacting as the thinking about ideas. Te terms “game changer” or “game chang- ing” are used on both dust flaps, for a chapter title, and at least 26 more times in the text. Okay, we get it. An- ticipatory thinking is a fresh, energizing way to approach business.

One of my favorite parts

comes in section three, “Shape the Future - Transform Culture.” Burrus talks about “Futureview,” a term for which he has a registered trademark. “How you view the future

impacts much more of the present than many of us realize. In devel- oping and leveraging an Anticipa- tory Mindset, it’s important to understand that the future doesn’t function in a vacuum. Rather, it’s something of a two-way street. While how you act in the present determines your future, so, too, does your view of the future impact how you think and act in the present,” Burrus writes. Our futureview determines how

we will live today, and who we will be in the future (a place we will all be spending a lot of time). A key to managing an Anticipatory

Organization is persuading employees toward the same shared futureview, in- stead of looking in the rearview mirror and focusing on just the present. I recommend this book. Because of

my own “futureview,” I’ll probably read it again.

December 2017 MODERN CASTING | 41

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