How Do You Anticipate The Future?

–Interview with Daniel Burrus by Jonathan Løw

Jonathan Løw: I would like to go back to the Hard Trends to make sure that both the readers and I fully understand these…

Daniel Burrus: Look at 4G wireless and what is now being implemented in some areas, 5G wireless. What is a Hard Trend related to this? That we’re going to have 6G wireless followed by 7G. It will happen, and, using my Three Digital Accelerators, we even know when it will happen and how powerful each will be. The accelerators are all advancing tech like this along with a predictable exponential curve. Ask yourself; how can our company benefit from knowing this?

Another Hard Trend example, Baby Boomers are going to get older, they will not get younger. This will happen. We can predict both opportunities and problems based on that. Try it!

In the U.S., obesity is predicted to grow as a problem. The same with Alzheimer’s. Are these trends hard Trends that can’t be changed? No! They are Soft Trends that we can influence or not, we have a choice.

You can’t make advances in artificial intelligence stop or disappear, and you can’t make mobility go away. They are Hard Trends that will just become increasingly powerful, so what can you benefit from this? Your job as a leader, an innovator and an entrepreneur is to turn these Hard Trends into opportunities. Make the trends come to life. Look at these opportunities for your business and for your customers. When you start doing this and seeing the future more clearly, pick something that is in alignment with the direction that you’re going.

Jonathan Løw: I’m fascinated by the idea and methods around Hard Trends because most people think that you can’t predict the future and be right…

Daniel Burrus: I have a 35-year record of showing that you can use Hard Trends to predict much of the future and be correct, and you can learn to do this as well.   Here is a simple example of a future fact; we will have summer again next year at the same time. Do you think that I’m right? Yes, because of the science of cycles. There are more than 500 known cycles. But there is another kind of predictable change, it’s linear in that it is not a cycle, it is going in one direction, and it’s exponential in its speed. Once you get a smartphone, you’re not going back to a dumb phone. Smartphones will get smarter. They will have more capabilities, not less. I know this for a fact. You know this for a fact.

Jonathan Løw: Your way of thinking reminds me of the beautiful serenity prayer:

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

Daniel Burrus: Very true. My passion is to wake people up to the fact that you can learn to see more than enough of what is up ahead to make a significant difference in your organization and your life. And we can use that knowledge to shape a better future for all. Over the decades working with executives around the world, I’ve collected thousands of Hard Trends for my clients. And we’ve used them to transform their businesses. I started out as a researcher and I taught biology and physics. In other words, I’ve applied scientific principles to forecasting. Most futurists make educated guesses about the future and call them trends. My Hard Trend methodology is changing how companies plan and innovate. You can do this as well.

Jonathan Løw: Let us try looking at a very hyped thing at the moment and applying your methodology to this: The self-driving cars. Elon Musk and others talk about them all the time. How will I know as a company, when this will happen, and what it will mean for my business?

Daniel Burrus: I help companies become Anticipatory Organizations. This means following a number of principles – one of these being the Both/And Principle when it comes to looking at technology. Typically we tend to think in either/or terms about new technology. Either the cars of the future will all be fully autonomous, or this will not happen. Using this principle, you will see that we will have both semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles in the future; it will depend on the use.

For example, can you imagine Porsche sell a car without a steering wheel? Their customers like to drive, but as a Porsche customer, I don’t like accidents. So, in this case of Porsche, they will use this tech to eliminate the accident part of driving and at the same time let you drive when you want to drive. It’s Both/And. Better to ask; what is the ideal place for real autonomous vehicles? I will predict very large companies with giant campuses and multiple buildings. Vehicles going from building to building. Busses are another great example because they follow the same route and stop at the same places. It’s not all or nothing. It’s Both/And.

Jonathan Løw: Finally, I want to understand your principle of “flash foresight”, that was the name of your last book. What is that?

Daniel Burrus: Flash Foresight is the concept of using my principles to see the invisible and do the impossible. Humans have been doing impossible things ever since they set foot on the planet. We have created glasses, chairs, and jet engines. Things that at one time were thought to be impossible.

How do you do impossible things? The answer is that when a solution to a seemingly impossible problem becomes visible, or when an invisible opportunity becomes visible, you get a flash of foresight that lets you move forward from where you were previously stuck.

What I want people to do is not be passive and hope for a better future. Hope is not a strategy. I want people to actively shape the future! And, I want people to think big about their future and then realize that they just thought small. Never to the big, always to the bigger big. Let’s actively shape a better future together, and let’s do it today!

You can learn more by going to

Jonathan Løw’s latest books Listen Louder and The Disruption Book (Danish books), both made it to the top of the bestseller-lists in 2015 in the category “Business and Entrepreneurship”. Additionally, Jonathan Løw is the editor of The GuruBook – published in March 2018 by Taylor & Francis from which the above interview originates.

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