How good are you at seeing what’s coming?  How effective is your organization at seeing the handwriting on the wall?  Amazing to me how blind we often are when it comes to our ability to recognize the "signs of the times."

I mentioned finding futurist Paul Saffo in a post I wrote last week.  Part of the Harvard Business Online collection.  Great stuff.  Here is the first of the six rules:

  • Define a cone of uncertainty.  This is an interesting idea.  Basically, think about the edges of possibility, what Saffo refers to as the line between "highly improbably and wildly impossible,"  the "ragged edge of plausibility, the outcomes that might conceivably happen but make you uncomfortable even to contemplate."  Don’t forget to also think about the center, such obvious possibilities that they’re easily overlooked.

Why do you create a cone of uncertainty?  The basic concept is that it allows you to see both potential threats and opportunities ahead of time.   Similar to Drucker’s line about simply looking "out the window and see what’s visible – but not yet seen." 

This is an exercise that many of us need to undertake.  Could your organization use the idea?  What if you pulled out a flip chart and made you own cone of uncertainty representing the coming decade.  Couldn’t you begin to create your own cone of uncertainty?

Want your own copy of the article?  You can download Six Rules of Effective Forecasting right here.


Rule #1 of Effective Forecasting