The Daily Drucker: Identifying the Future

Futurists always measure their batting average by counting how many things they have predicted that have come true. They never count how many important things come true that they did not predict. Everything a forecaster predicts may come to pass. Yet, he may not have seen the most meaningful of the emergent realities or, worse still, may not have paid attention to them. There is no way to avoid this irrelevancy in forecasting, for the important and distinctive are always the result of changes in values, perception, and goals, that is, in things that one can divine but not forecast.

But the most important work of the executive is to identify the changes that have already happened. The important challenge in society, economics, politics, is to exploit the changes that have already occurred and to use them as opportunities. The important thing is to identify the "future that has already happened"—and to develop a methodology for perceiving and analyzing these changes. A good deal of this methodology is incorporated in my 1985 book Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which shows how one systematically looks to the changes in society, in demographics, in meaning, in science and technology, as opportunities to make the future.

Action Point: Identify the major trends in your market that have already appeared. Write a page on their likely longevity and impact on your life and organization.

This is an excerpt from
366 Days of Insight and Motivation for Getting the Right Things Done, by Peter F. Drucker with Joseph A. Maciariello.