Remembering to forget

The art of anticipating the future is forgetting the past

If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past decade, it’s that the future will be different to what we expected, and often surprisingly so.

You’ve got to remember to forget.

We’re now used to moon landings from private companies, and space-age internet that blankets the planet and is virtually free. All this using technology that hadn’t been invented in 2014. Well, some of it, like SpaceX reusable rockets, was being developed, but they were hardly mainstream back then.

And ten years later they’ve reflown hundreds – yes, hundreds, not dozens – of orbital boosters. Again and again.

You see, an expert in any field or knowledge domain, by definition, knows it all; they often can’t conceive of the unknowable in their view, because they are the experts. And they’ll be able to tell you, off the cuff, what can and can’t be done; they’ve seen all the successes and failures.

But as Bill Gates was fond of saying: “Success is a lousy teacher.” It seduces you into thinking you know all the right answers, because you are successful. Failure is where you often learn the most lessons. Ask Elon Musk.

So, in contemplating your future strategy, forget about the experts, forget about the past, and think about what a beginner, an absolute novice in the industry, would consider doing. Like James Dyson inventing his disruptive electric car; start with zero legacy in the auto industry, but an intimate knowledge of trying, and failing, in the rechargeable electric appliance field.

And don’t forget to remember to forget.

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

Despite appearances to the contrary, Futureworld cannot and does not predict the future. Our Mindbullets scenarios are fictitious and designed purely to explore possible futures, challenge and stimulate strategic thinking. Use these at your own risk. Any reference to actual people, entities or events is entirely allegorical. Copyright Futureworld International Limited. Reproduction or distribution permitted only with recognition of Copyright and the inclusion of this disclaimer.