Hal Varian

If you want to understand the future, just look at what rich people do today.

Robert M. Donnelly

Peter Drucker said that “to defend yesterday is a larger risk than to create tomorrow.” Concentrating for too long on what was at the expense of what will be has been the formula for failure for many CEOs.

Frank Herbert

Any one response to the universe, however powerful, becomes inappropriate with time and change. Those who become utterly dependent on one means of mastery will find themselves unable to cope with the future.

Henry R. Luce

Business, more than any other occupation, is a continual dealing with the future; it is a continual calculation, an instinctive exercise in foresight.

Theodore Levitt

Though forecasting specific events is futile, becoming conversant in the growing technical language and comfortable with the evolving conditions and events that shape the future is an increasingly essential part of what management is and does. Managers who don’t make the effort, who don’t learn, and who don’t get comfortable with what needs to be learned will surely constrain their careers and hurt their companies. … [ Read more ]

Henry Mintzberg

If you want the imagination to see the future, then you better have the wisdom to appreciate the past. An obsession with the present—with what’s “hot”, and what’s “in”—may be dazzling, but all that does is blind everyone to the reality. Show me a chief executive who ignores yesterday, who favors the new outsider over the experienced insider, the quick fix over steady progress, and … [ Read more ]

Peter Cappelli

What you are trying to develop in a manager is a kind of inductive skill in reading the terrain; of knowing intuitively when the paradigms are about to change or bust up—or endure.

Peter Senge

From both a practical and theoretical standpoint, senior executives are expected to provide insight and vision about how the world is evolving over the next 10 to 30 years. But Americans probably have less sense of history than almost any culture on the planet and we seem to be, if anything, hell-bent on having even less sense of history. Understanding the past is yet another … [ Read more ]

Taylor Bodman

It is possible to honor the past and at the same time to make real the failings that lead us to want a better tomorrow.

Peter Drucker

[Economics and technology] are the wrong places to begin. The fundamental changes are social, and they are the greatest changes imaginable.

William Gibson

The future is already here — it is just not very evenly distributed.

Clayton Christensen

How can you make sense of the future when you only have data about the past? That’s the role of theory, to look into the future.

David K. Hurst, Nassim Nicholas Taleb

In modern times we have become increasingly preoccupied with prediction, and blind to the value of antifragility. As a result, iatrogenic damage (harm caused by well-meaning interventions) has become ubiquitous. Antibiotics spawn superbugs; the propping up of dictators leads to violent revolution; and the construction of permanent structures on impermanent shorelines becomes a sure prescription for mass destruction.

Gary Hamel

…most companies devote much more energy to optimizing what is there than to imagining what could be. We need to create constituencies for “What Could Be.”

Gary Hamel

…in the long term the most important question for a company is not what you are but what you are becoming.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

I don’t like scenario planning, because people don’t think out of the box. So scenario planning may focus on four, five, or six scenarios that you can envision, at the expense of others you can’t. Instead of looking at scenarios and forecasts, you should be looking to see how fragile your portfolio is. How vulnerable are you to model error? How vulnerable is your cash … [ Read more ]

Niccoló Machiavelli

Wise men say, and not without reason, that whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times. This arises from the fact that they are produced by men who have been, and ever will be, animated by the same passions and thus they must necessarily have the same results.

John McCallum

What makes economic forecasting so difficult is that, ultimately, it is a call on the behavior of people. It is the willingness or not of consumers to spend, executives to invest and create jobs, savers and money managers to buy stocks and bonds and so on that determines the direction of everything that matters about the economy. Unfortunately for the economic forecaster, behavior is driven … [ Read more ]

John McCallum

Some thoughts for executives on how to use an economic forecast: First, the economy involves myriad variables and interrelationships of varying measurability and complexity. Not every business depends for its prosperity on the same variables and relationships. Executives should know the key economic drivers of their business and focus on forecasting them. Having said that, economic growth is big for almost everyone; a rising tide … [ Read more ]

Paul Saffo

The problem — and the essence of what makes forecasting hard — is that human nature is hardwired to abhor uncertainty. We are fascinated by change, but in our effort to avoid uncertainty we either dismiss outliers entirely or attempt to turn them into certainties that they are not.