How to Spot the Future
Photo: Brock Davis Thirty years ago, when John Naisbitt was writing Megatrends, his prescient vision of America’s future, he used a simple yet powerful tool to spot new ideas that were bubbling in the zeitgeist: the newspaper. He didn’t just read it, though. He took out a ruler and measured it. The more column inches a particular topic earned over time, the more likely it represented an emerging trend. “The collective news hole,” Naisbitt wrote, “becomes a mechanical representation of society sorting out its priorities”—and he used that mechanism to predict the information society, globalism, decentralization, and the rise of networks. As clever as Naisbitt’s method was, it would never work today. This may sound like a paradox. So how do we spot the future—and how might you? It’s no secret that the best ideas—the ones with the most impact and longevity—are transferable; an innovation in one industry can be exported to transform another. This notion goes way back.
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