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Monday, July 28, 2014

Back to the Future

Alvin Toffler’s bestselling book, Future Shock, arrived in bookstores in 1970 and sold more than five million copies. In it we learned that our culture was changing rapidly. Concern was raised that change was coming at such a speed that it would overwhelm us. Do you believe that has happened and continues? Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Alvin Toffler’s wife, Heidi, once made this statement: “Anybody who tells you they know what’s going to happen, don’t believe a word they say!” This from the woman who predicted women would buy and throw away paper dresses (that did happen in the 1960s). Alvin and Heidi did see the day of the Internet and YouTube, cloning, and the growth of home schooling. But they missed on the idea of underwater cities and the doubling of the earth’s population by the 1980s.

Future thinkers have a tough job. The future doesn’t always agree with them. Kind of like what we find with weather forecasters. I wish one would just say, “There’s a 50% chance I’ll be right today.”

A recent business article posted for fellow Linked In members gives an important perspective to thinking ahead. Daniel Burris is apparently one of the world’s leading technology forecasters and innovation experts. He has authored six books including The New York Times bestseller Flash Foresight. His challenge to business leaders today is to be “anticipatory” — in the right way.

What IS the right way? To learn to distinguish between hard trends and soft trends. Hard trends are those areas that WILL happen. Soft trends MIGHT happen. I’ll let him explain:

“Understanding the difference between hard and soft trends allows us to know which parts of the future we can be right about. When you learn how to analyze trends in this way, you can accurately predict future disruptions, identify and solve problems before they happen, and practice what I call ‘everyday innovation.’ This enables you to solve challenges and problems faster and see opportunities that were impossible just a few years before. In other words, you become anticipatory rather than reactionary.”

Okay. Got it. Uh…how do you DO that? I think this is how he makes his money.

I’m in an industry (radio) that has a LOT of people trying to figure out these trends. What does the future look like for “terrestrial radio” — those AM/FM stations that have been around for decades. Decisions made now, preparing for what is to come, have enormous considerations financially, as well as their impact on people’s lives. Certainly, these weighty matters are worthy of time devoted to research.

The Bible had one stringent requirement for futurists—or as they were known, prophets. You had to be right EVERY time. Here is the way it reads in Deuteronomy 18:22: “You may be wondering among yourselves, ‘How can we tell the difference, whether it was God who spoke or not?’ Here’s how: If what the prophet spoke in God’s name doesn’t happen, then obviously God wasn’t behind it; the prophet made it up. Forget about him.” (The Message)

But get this. It’s said that 353 prophecies made about one person were fulfilled in the life of one man: Jesus of Nazareth. That amazing truth is why Jesus is called Messiah by millions of people…still today. Jesus….the Savior of mankind. You have to admit, it’s hard to beat those odds.

As for futurists, here’s what I don’t recommend. Psychic hotlines. Or if you do call one, try this: “When will the Cubs win their next World Series?” Stumps them every time.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays, 4-6 pm on AM 1160 WYLL in Chicago. Check the web for WYLL and the app for AM 1160 to listen live. Or by podcast.

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