Learning to become anticipatory versus being agile and reactionary will prove to be far more effective in helping you think exponentially, skip your biggest problems with ease, and ultimately envision and bring to life amazing new ideas with the confidence that certainty provides.
At first glance, it’s understandable to assume that every entrepreneur is anticipatory. Since they often “take the leap and build the plan on the way down,” most assume they must possess a degree of anticipatory thinking.
That is true; however, it certainly isn’t magic. In many instances, some very successful anticipatory entrepreneurs’ innovations were logical improvements upon existing products or services.
Elon Musk certainly saw that opportunity while others were focusing on maintaining the status quo. As most motor vehicle companies have long moved to protect and defend the status quo of gas-powered vehicles, Musk focused on the evolution of transportation and environmental sustainability, creating a fully electric vehicle that eliminates the need for both gas and motor oil, as an electric vehicle does not have moving engine parts requiring lubrication.
Going even further, he is now moving forward with the Boring Company, which moves to transport people in their vehicles underground in train-like fashion, without cluttering the Earth with above ground tracks. By using anticipatory skills, entrepreneurs like Elon Musk go to the next level by learning to see the evolution of a product, such as the evolution of transportation, and use that knowledge to innovate with low risk.
An Anticipatory Entrepreneur goes beyond simply improving upon something that already exists. They envision something utterly different—something that has the power to disrupt an entire landscape and open people’s eyes to something completely new. They aim to give people the ability to do what they currently can’t do but would want to do if they only knew they could, such as charging their car at home rather than filling it at a gas station.
Two cornerstones of my Anticipatory Organization Model are what I refer to as Hard Trends and Soft Trends. Hard Trends are based on future facts that represent future certainties—things that are inevitably going to happen, such as cybercrime evolving as digital applications evolve. Hard Trends are coming no matter what, but you can see them coming and use that knowledge to innovate and create positive disruptions, like improving cybersecurity by implementing Blockchain technology that makes hacking data a virtually impossible task.
The use of Hard Trends boils down to an enormously important advantage for entrepreneurs: certainty. Strategy based on certainty has low risk compared to strategy based on uncertainty. Additionally, pinpointing Soft Trends that others might mistake for future facts is another way to identify new opportunities and drive innovation.
Soft Trends are based on assumptions about the future and represent future possibilities. They may or may not occur, which takes in a broad array of possibilities. Unlike Hard Trends, Soft Trends are not only future maybes, but they’re open to influence, allowing you to impact their outcome.
Anticipatory entrepreneurs think exponentially about everything, let alone technology and digital disruption. Thinking exponentially about anything opens both doors and windows leading to opportunity, rather than just unlocking the front door and having to walk in and out of that same opening.
Consider a career in graphic design. Most may pinpoint digital artists as logo designers; however, as an anticipatory entrepreneur with a background in graphic design, what else can you do? How about vehicle graphics? Maybe you start offering a service where you design art for someone’s whole house for them to download and print?
As an anticipatory entrepreneur, view your career exponentially. Do not limit yourself to one specialty, especially when the goal in business is to grow. Growth stems from exponential thinking!
Change is the only constant, which is unnerving for some but exciting for entrepreneurs. By looking to create something new, they’re naturally at the heart of change. Yet even if you aren’t an entrepreneur, the rate of digital exponential growth is increasing every day and affects everyone whether they realize it or not.
So in order to stay ahead of the curve, you must implement my anticipatory mindset to move beyond agility and reactionary behavior. An anticipatory mindset for both entrepreneurs and the general public allows them to use exponential change and Hard Trends to see future opportunities long before the competition, turning disruption and change into opportunity and advantage.
By incorporating the strategies in my Anticipatory Organization Model—outlined in much greater detail in my bestselling book The Anticipatory Organization—you can position yourself to create positive disruption and actively shape a better future for yourself and others.
Daniel Burrus is considered one of the world’s leading futurists on global trends and innovation. The New York Times has referred to him as one of the top three business gurus in the highest demand as a speaker. He is a strategic advisor to executives from Fortune 500 companies, helping them to accelerate innovation and results by develop game-changing strategies based on his proven methodologies for capitalizing on technology innovations and their future impact. His client list includes companies such as Microsoft, GE, American Express, Google, Deloitte, Procter & Gamble, Honda, and IBM. He is the author of seven books, including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller Flash Foresight, and his latest book The Anticipatory Organization. He is a featured writer with millions of monthly readers on the topics of innovation, change and the future and has appeared in Harvard Business Review, Wired, CNBC, and Huffington Post to name a few. He has been the featured subject of several PBS television specials and has appeared on programs such as CNN, Fox Business, and Bloomberg, and is quoted in a variety of publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Fortune, and Forbes. He has founded six businesses, four of which were national leaders in the United States in the first year. He is the CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology driven trends to help clients profit from technological, social and business forces that are converging to create enormous, untapped opportunities. In 1983 he became the first and only futurist to accurately identify the twenty technologies that would become the driving force of business and economic change for decades to come. He also linked exponential computing advances to economic value creation. His specialties are technology-driven trends, strategic innovation, strategic advising and planning, business keynote presentations.